By Emily Goddard

Wellington has withdrawn its bid to host 2018 World Equestrian Games ©AFP/Getty ImagesMarch 31 - The Florida village of Wellington has pulled the plug on its bid to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games after what the company behind the campaign called a "sponsor conflict".

The withdrawal comes after a meeting between the Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) bid team and senior officials from the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

"I would like to thank the FEI for having the confidence in our organisation and world-class facility to be part of the bidding and for taking the time to meet with us," Mark Bellissimo, chief executive of ESP, said.

"While I believe we had a very strong technical bid and I am confident we could have run a very exciting, unique, and successful WEG, the marketing conditions would have precluded us from honouring our commitments to a valued sponsor.

"I would like to wish the remaining candidates the best of luck for this important championship."

The Kentucky city of Lexington - which hosted the 2010 World Equestrian Games - and the Canadian city of Bromont near Montreal remain the only two bids for the 2018 flagship event.

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

The FEI had received a record eight expressions of interest - from Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Morocco, Sweden, Russia and United States - by November 2011, but Australia, Russia and Sweden withdrew before the candidate phase in 2012.

Austria, Hungary, Morocco and the US then did not to submit a signed host agreement on time and sole bidder Canada failed to provide the necessary financial support, forcing equestrian sport's world governing body to re-open the bidding process for the event last July.

Bromont, Lexington, Wellington and Great Britain then declared their interest, only for the latter to withdraw in October.

Bromont and Lexington will formally present their bids to the FEI Bureau at its spring meeting, after which the host city for the 2018 World Equestrian Games will be announced.

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