By Duncan Mackay

World Equestrian_Games_KentuckyJune 11 - The FEI World Equestrian Games could be exploring new territory after Rabat in Morocco was among five confirmed bidders for the event in 2018. 

The biggest event on the equestrian calendar, which takes place every four years, has not been held outside Europe or North America since it was first staged in Stockholm in 1990.

Indeed, it had never left Europe until the last event, in 2010, when it was staged successfully in Lexington, Kentucky, in the United States.

There are two North American candidates for the 2018 Games, Wellington in Florida and Bromont in Quebec, Canada.

The candidates are completed by two from Europe, Budapest in Hungary and Vienna in Austria.

Under the new bidding process put in place last year by the world governing body FEI for the Games, eight signed Expression of Interest documents were received from Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Morocco, Sweden, Russia and the US last November.

The Australian, Russian and Swedish applications were withdrawn prior to the start of the official Candidate Phase earlier this year, but the five remaining applicants have moved ahead with their bids.

The five Candidate cities all met the April 30 deadline for receipt of the official Applicant Questionnaire.

The five Bid Applications and Questionnaires have now been validated by FEI Headquarters.

Details of the five bid cities were formally presented to the FEI Bureau at its meeting in Lausanne earlier this month.

A briefing for the five candidates is due to be held in Lausanne on July 11 with completed legal documentation, including a signed Host Agreement, to be returned by December 15. 

"It is fantastic to have five really strong bids for hosting the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and there could be no better endorsement of the FEI's flagship event", FEI secretary general Ingmar de Vos said.

"The new bidding process that we put in place last year for the FEI World Equestrian Games has generated a huge amount of interest and we now look forward to welcoming the 2018 bidders to FEI Headquarters next month."

As the final stage in the bidding process, the candidates will formally present their bids to the FEI Bureau at its Spring 2013 meeting, after which the official announcement of the host organisers of the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 will be made.

The 2014 World Equestrian Games are due to be held in Normandy, France.

For more details on the bid process click here.

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