April 8, 2008

News that an Irish businessman is pledging €10 million ($NZ20 million) in sponsorship if Ireland hosts the World Equestrian Games in 2014 is likely to add impetus as the country weighs up whether it will make a bid.

Horsetalk reported early in February that Horse Sport Ireland had set up a working party to assess the viability of a formal bid to host 2014 games and that an offer of sponsorship had come from Dr Pearse Lyons, global president of US animal health and nutrition company Alltech.

However, the Sunday Business Post in Ireland now reports that his sponsorship pledge is for up to €10 million if the government successfully bids for the games.

Alltech, founded by Dr Lyons, already has naming rights for the 2010 games, to be held in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Post reports that Dr Lyons visited Ireland recently and met foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern.

Meanwhile, France has already submitted its bid to host the games.

The French have proposed the games be held in the region of Basse-Normandie in Northern France with the organisers to be Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which runs the world's biggest cycling race, the Tour de France, and the annual off-road race The Dakar Rally.

The FEI has said it will follow a clear and fair process in the allocation of the seventh World Equestrian Games.

In the period until October 2008, any bidders will be visited by the FEI management and technical experts to assess their technical and commercial capabilities as well as to assist the federation and organiser in the preparation of their bid and clarify any issues that may arise.

Formal bids should be finalised by October 2008; the contract will be signed during the FEI General Assembly in November 2008.

The bids will then be circulated to the FEI Bureau. Bidders will be asked to make a formal presentation prior to the decision by the Bureau on the host Organiser, which will be taken in the spring of 2009.