TOM MARRIOTT: SUMMING UP THE SAUDI CUP

$35.1million was up for grabs at The Saudi Cup meeting, the most valuable fixture in horse racing, and our consumer PR and social media teams were out in the desert drumming up coverage.


@TheSaudiCup Twitter account hit over 4m impressions on Saudi Cup Saturday, whilst coverage of the event was seen across online, print and broadcast media in all corners of the world. Here’s a little bit more about our work on the event and the trip to Riyadh…


WHAT IS… THE SAUDI CUP?


It’s huge. Introduced to the racing calendar in 2020, The Saudi Cup is the newest, and most valuable, horse race in the world. The race carries an unrivalled purse of $20m, while prize money across the two-day meeting totals $35.1m - enough to attract runners and riders from no less than 21 countries across five continents.


And going back to the first point, the trophy is actually huge – standing at over 1m in height and gilded in 24ct gold!



OUR ROLE…


With a princely sum up for grabs and rapidly-growing global interest, Square in the Air were onboarded in September 2020, in the build-up to the second edition of the race, to handle the event’s international PR and social media.


After a successful first year, which saw British-trained winner Mishriff plastered across the papers, we were back to turn up the media volume again for a six-month campaign building towards the meeting held on 25-26 February.



BUILDING INTEREST…


We had about 175 days to get as many people tuned into The Saudi Cup as possible. For us, that means hitting papers, online publications, TV and radio stations, and social media feeds.


By the time Saudi Cup week had arrived, we’d distributed over 25 press releases, yielded 200 stories in the sport, racing and lifestyle press, as well as fuelled a growing and engaged audience across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


But the busiest period was still ahead of us…



RACEWEEK IN RIYADH…


Monday - Friday:

Early morning starts with trackwork, getting a glimpse of the million-dollar horses, liaising with media and capturing some content of our own.

We’d follow that up by organising top trainers, jockeys and owners to attend the mid-morning daily press conferences, which we live-streamed on Zoom to media across the world.


By the time the searing Riyadh sun had risen, journalists from Tokyo in the east, to California in the west, and everywhere in-between, will have received the morning’s news.


Wednesday:

Wednesday evening saw The Saudi Cup draw take place, which we streamed live on Twitter to an engaged viewership of 16k on the night. Reactions from connections following the draw were then circulated to all racing media.


Friday:

Friday played host to the STC-sponsored International Jockeys Challenge, an event pitting some of the world’s greatest jockeys in a four-race competition.


I was based mainly in the media centre, spinning fresh and reactive social media content alongside Oliver Cook, and fielding queries from journalists,

while Ben Cleminson and Jake Comaschi roamed the track to capture videos and imagery, as well as handling the press conference area.


Saturday:

Saturday was the big one, Saudi Cup day. Thankfully no early morning trackwork… so a few more minutes in bed and a brisk gym session to clear the head was how I kicked things off.


The media centre was bustling from 10am onwards as the media revved up to report on the world’s most valuable race. We were busy making sure journalists had enough information to hand, to report accurately on the day, whilst I was concentrating on building the anticipation on social media.


One of the things we’d created through the week was a nice vox-pop style video (see opposite).



Once racing was underway the time flew by. We were recording a live stream of the world feed, supplied by HBA, to quickly snip up race replays and post directly on social media. Sometimes the success of a news story is about how quickly you can get it out there, so we were keen to make sure @thesaudicup led the way:


Following each race, we’d distribute press releases with quotes from winning connections to racing media across the world, as well as hosting live-streaming press conferences.


After a marathon of eight races, nine press releases, six press conferences and over 100 social media posts, our work for the day was done, and we got to grab a snap with The Saudi Cup-winning jockey, Wigberto ‘Wiggy’/’Wigman’ Ramos – my favourite moment of the trip!


If you didn’t hear about The Saudi Cup this year, then we need to work harder! 😊


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