By Gary Anderson

November 15 - Lexington and Wellington have joined Bromont/Montreal as official bidders for the 2018 World Equestrian Games © DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty ImagesWellington and Lexington have officially joined Canadian bid Bromont/Montreal in the race to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games after the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) announced the United States cities have met today's submission deadline.

Applicants bidding to host the Games in 2018 had until today to return their signed bid applications and questionnaires.

Canada, which has never hosted the Championships, confirmed its initial bid to host the 2018 event in Bromont near Montreal, earlier this year, but at a meeting of the FEI Bureau in July, the world governing body decided not to allocate the event to them, even though they were the only bidders, as it did not provide the necessary financial guarantees.

However, the governing body subsequently accepted a re-submitted bid from the Canadians.

The FEI had revealed in November 2011 that a record eight bidders had shown tentative interest in hosting the Games along with Canada including the US, Australia, Austria, Hungary, Morocco, Russia and Sweden, who all subsequently dropped out.

However, Lexington in Kentucky and Wellington in Florida subsequently indicated that they would be interested in hosting the Games and they were joined by a proposed bid from Britain in September.

The British interest was dropped last month with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) citing problems with funding and securing a host venue as the reasons for its withdrawal, leaving the way clear for Wellington and Lexington to join Bromont/Montreal in a three-horse race for hosting rights in 2018.

Lexington hosted the last World Championships in 2010, the first time the event had been held in America.

Lexington in Kentucky hosted the last World Equestrian Games in 2010 © AFP / Getty ImagesLexington in Kentucky hosted the last World Equestrian Games in 2010 © AFP / Getty Images

"We are delighted that we have Wellington, Kentucky and Bromont/Montreal in the bidding process for our flagship event," said FEI secretary general, Ingmar de Vos.

"All three locations have strong equestrian traditions so it will be fascinating to see which of the bid committees produces the most compelling reasons why they should be allocated the Games in 2018.

"It's going to be an interesting process."

The FEI will now review the applicant questionnaires at its headquarters in Lausanne before announcing Candidate cities on December 2.

The deadline for submission of completed and signed Host Agreements is March 31, 2014.

Each candidate will then present their final bid submissions at a meeting of the FEI Bureau in June 2014 after which the 2018 Games host city will be announced.

The World Equestrian Games is the biggest event on the sport's calendar and at the last event in Lexington 57 countries were represented by 800 people and their horses in eight of the ten disciplines governed by the FEI, including combined driving, dressage, endurance riding, eventing, Paraequestrianism, reining, show jumping and vaulting.

The 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games are due to take place in Normandy in France from August 23 to September 7.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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