Dublin-born Michael Stone will be a key player in a bid to secure the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) for the United States, after Canada pulled out of contention, writes Jack Burns.

Originally granted to Bromont in Quebec, the Government of Canada informed the event’s Organising Committee in July that it wouldn’t support the staging of the games, because of a lack of financial support from the private sector.

Though pundits believed that WEG 2018 would return to Europe, where it has been staged six times since its inception in 1990, a surprise bid emerged this week from North Carolina in the United States, where the Tryon Equestrian Centre has been staging successful international events for the last few years.

Now with backing from the United States Equestrian Federation (the national governing body for the sport), Tryon’s bid is swiftly gathering momentum, with its organising committee including Dubliner Michael Stone, President of Equestrian Sport Productions and former Secretary General of the FEI, who has been involved in the WEG process for all events since the inaugural games in 1990 (with the exception of the 2014 Normandy games).

Stone was also Secretary General of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland in the late 1990s, before going on to hold the sport’s top job in Lausanne, Switzerland for ten years.

Stone moved to Florida in 2008, where he became President of Equestrian Sport Productions.

He told We Live Horse tonight: “I am very hopeful that the FEI will allocate the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games to Tryon, I believe that it is very important that the games are a global event and that it is appropriate that it stays in North America.

“Our facility in Tryon is one of the finest in the world and could host the equestrian element of the Games next week. Between our three major facilities we have the expertise and the staff to create a fantastic event, which given the short time frame makes us uniquely qualified to host the WEG.”

Tryon International Equestrian Centre in North Carolina

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP), confirmed this week that the Tryon International Equestrian Centre in Mill Spring, North Carolina was working with United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to ensure that the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games  remained in North America, and that USEF had communicated its support of the initiative to the FEI for the 2018 WEG.

“While it is unfortunate the games will not be able to take place at Bromont, the USEF believes it is critical that the WEG remain in North America as intended so that the globalisation of the sport can continue,” said Bellissimo.

“We are uniquely and immediately positioned to hold all eight disciplines within a central venue. Further, our integrated approach to existing on-site lodging, restaurants, permanent VIP hospitality venues, and abundance of on-site and local area family activities would be attractive for vendors, sponsors, competitors, horse owners, and spectators. In addition, there are 60,000 hotel beds within 60 miles of the venue. We are confident that these elements would create a very successful games and re-energize the WEG product.”

What is WEG?

The WEG, which is administered by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport, occurs every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle and is the major international championship event for Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining. The Bromont venue, located in Canada, which had been awarded the 2018 games, announced last week that they were withdrawing from their hosting arrangement with the FEI.