BY CHERYL TRUMAN
The Federation Equestre International announced Tuesday that Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park are one of two candidates to host the 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games.
The other candidate for host city is Samorin, Slovakia, about 4,800 miles away from Lexington.
Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park hosted the games in 2010, becoming the first venue outside of Europe to host the games and drawing attendees from 63 countries and all 50 states.
The games, which are held every four years, include competitions in all eight of the FEI disciplines: jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining.
The FEI will conduct site visits between January and May 2017. Candidates will be required to submit their completed bids and sign the host agreement by June 2017, with formal presentations made to the FEI Evaluation Commission in the third quarter of 2017.
The final decision will be announced in November.
Laura Prewitt, executive director of the 1,224-acre Kentucky Horse Park, said horse park officials “believe the Kentucky Horse Park is the world’s premier equine tourist destination, and we look forward to exploring the opportunity to host the 2022 Games.”
Don Parkinson, secretary of the tourism, arts and heritage cabinet, said Kentucky “appreciates how important this global event is for the equine and tourism industries. ... We will now focus on what effect these Games would have on the commonwealth and our taxpayers.”
Samorin, Slovakia, was part of Czechoslovakia until the 1993 split of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The town has more than 13,000 residents, including Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs, and a large sports complex for professional and amateur sports, including Olympic training.
The Longines FEI World Endurance Championships 2016 were held at the Samorin Equestrian Centre in September. The FEI Endurance Committee picked the Slovakian venue over sites in Fontainbleau, France, and San Rossore, Pisa, Italy.
Kentucky did not pursue the 2018 World Equestrian Games after they were pulled from Canada in July because the state decided a last-minute bid would “put the commonwealth and the taxpayers at enormous financial risk,” according to a statement from the Cabinet for Tourism, Arts and Heritage.
Bromont, Quebec, had been scheduled to host the games in 2018 but pulled out. Bromont had been awarded the games in 2014 over Kentucky. The 2018 games are to be held Sept. 10 to 23 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina.
Laura Brooks, a spokeswoman for the tourism cabinet, said in July that Kentucky “is preparing a strong proposal for the World Equestrian Games in 2022. ... The Kentucky Horse Park is already improving its amenities as its prepares a successful bid for the 2022 World Equestrian Games.”