All roads lead to Normandy in France where the much-anticipated 2014 World Equestrian Games begins in two weeks’ time. The seventh edition of the FEI’s flagship event is the biggest in its 24-year history, and with a massive increase in entries, and visitors already flying into northern France from all around the globe, it promises to be the greatest showcase for equestrian sport to date.
Staged at the halfway point between each Summer Olympic Games, the World Equestrian Games bring together the World Championships for all FEI disciplines. Previously these had been held in different locations, but, strongly supported by then FEI President Prince Philip, the concept that had been floating around for quite some time became a reality at the first edition held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990.
A total of 421 competitors from 37 nations took part in the six disciplines of Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance and Vaulting at the Swedish fixture which was initially intended to be a “one-off” event. However it was so successful that it was decided it should continue, and the event has firmly established itself on the calendar of world sport.
Increased to seven
It was subsequently staged in The Hague (NED) in 1994, Rome (ITA) in 1998, Jerez de la Frontera (ESP) in 2002, Aachen (GER) in 2006 and by the time it arrived in Lexington, Kentucky (USA) in 2010 the number of disciplines had increased to seven with the inclusion of Reining and the incorporation of Para-Dressage into the Dressage programme. A total of 632 athletes from 58 nations took part at the last edition of the Games, but those figures will be exceeded yet again this time around as, with equestrian sport continuously expanding its reach around the globe, the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy has attracted a 25% increase in nominated entries from which the startlists in each discipline will be finalised over the next 11 days.
Approximately a thousand athletes from 74 nations are expected to compete.
Jumping has attracted the largest number of nations - 54 in total - while Endurance is next in line with 48. Australia, Austria, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States will be represented in every discipline, while 12 countries will make their World Equestrian Games debut. They are Hong Kong, US Virgin Islands, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Morocco, Mauritius, Peru, Palestine, Romania, Thailand and Tunisia.
The deadline for definite entries is 14 August for Dressage and Para-Dressage, Eventing, Endurance and Reining and 22 August for Jumping, Driving and Vaulting.
The opening ceremony of the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy will take place on Saturday 23 August and the action begins on Monday 25 August when Dressage and Reining both get underway. The event will conclude on Sunday 7 September with the closing stages of Jumping and Driving.
The region of Normandy is world-famous for its horse-breeding and sporting connections. The rich land is ideal for raising young stock, and Normandy is home to 93,000 horses with 408 equestrian centres and two National Studs, at Le Pin and Saint-Lo.
While the city of Caen is the central location for the Games, the State-owned Haras du Pin is the venue for the Dressage and Cross-Country phases of Eventing. The largest of the 20 National Studs located in France, the 16th century estate has long been home to world-class Eventing fixtures and is widely acclaimed for its beauty. Tickets for Eventing are fully sold out.
When it comes to magnificent backdrops, it doesn’t get much more awesome than the venue for Endurance at the bay of Mont St Michel. Located in the La Manche area, this iconic island which is located just 600 metres from the mainland is one of the most recognisable landmarks in France and welcomes three million visitors each year. The spectacular Endurance course will begin at the town of Sartilly and will circle around the bay.
Caen is the venue for the remaining disciplines with the D’Ornano Stadium home to the Opening and Closing ceremonies along with Dressage, Jumping and the Jumping phase of Eventing.
Para-Dressage and Driving will take place at the Prairie Racecourse in the city centre while Vaulting and Reining will take place at the Zenith indoor arena and exhibition centre.
The 2014 World Equestrian Games will be broadcast in over 200 territories worldwide, bringing the best of international equestrian sport to a bigger audience than ever before.
Facts and Figures:
Normandy in France hosts the seventh edition of the World Equestrian Games from 23 August to 7 September 2014.
7 competition venues
27 sets of medals
1,000 athletes from 74 nations are expected to compete
Stockholm in Sweden hosted the first FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 1990 when 421 competitors from 37 nations took part.
by Louise Parkes for the FEI
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2014 World Equestrian Games