By Sara Evans

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July 15 - Hungary and the United States, two of the five countries confirmed as official candidates to stage the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, have withdrawn from the bidding process.

The President of the Hungarian National Federation Vilmos Lázár confirmed in a letter to the FEI that the Hungarian capital Budapest was withdrawing its bid as Austria, Hungary's immediate neighbour, was also bidding.

In response to the letter, FEI secretary general Ingmar De Vos said: "Of course we are sad to lose the Hungarian bid for 2018, but we respect the National Federation's decision and admire its generous support of the neighbouring bid from Austria".

Meanwhile, Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), the company behind the US bid for 2018, informed the FEI that Wellington, it's candidate city, was officially withdrawing from the process, due to a change in local Government.

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Michael Stone, ESP President, expressed his regret for the withdrawal but said: "We have a responsibility to the local community, equestrian sport, and the FEI World Equestrian Games not to waste the time, effort and resources of all parties involved in the international selection process."

"We are sorry Wellington will not be pursuing their bid," De Vos commented, "but we have three other candidates that have all put in very strong bids for 2018."

The three countries left in the running to host 2018's FEI World Equestrian Games are Rabat in Morocco, Bromont in Canada and the Austrian capital Vienna.

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