By Duncan MackayNovember 17 – A record eight countries have put themselves forward to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games, it has been announced. Australia, Austria, Canada, Hungary, Morocco, Russia, Sweden and the United States all submitted official expressions of interest by the time the deadline set by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) expired at midnight on Tuesday (November 15). “It also shows the value of the review that the FEI has commissioned of the bidding process for the FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI European Championships, which is aimed at raising the profile of these events and their associated revenues by creating a competitive, well structured and transparent bid process,” said Ingmar de Vos, the secretary general of the FEI. The event includes eight of the FEI’s ten disciplines: combined driving, dressage, endurance riding, eventing, paraequestrianism, reining, show jumping, and vaulting. A decision will be announced after the FEI Spring Bureau meeting in early 2013 as the third and final phase in the new bidding process that the FEI has put in place for the FEI World Equestrian Games and FEI European Championships. Under the new process, the key deadlines can be broken down into three phases, the applicant phase, the candidate phase and the decision phase. The first phase has already begun with deadline for receipt of expressions of interest. This phase will continue with guide and applicant questionnaire, which will be sent to applicants in March 2012. The candidate phase is due to begin on April 30, 2012, with the deadline for receipt of the applicant questionnaire. An FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 presentation will be made to candidates at FEI headquarters in Lausanne in June 2012, when legal cocumentation will also be given to candidates. Completed document, including a signed host agreement, must be submitted to the FEI by December 15, 2012. Candidates will formally present their bids to the FEI in February 2013, prior to the official announcement of the host organisers after the Spring Bureau meeting in 2013. The Games were first held in Stockholm in 1990 and have since been held in The Hague in 1994, Rome in 1998, Jerez in 2002, Aachen in 2006 and last year in Lexington in Kentucky, the first time the event has been held outside Europe and where competitors from 58 countries took part. The 2014 Games are due to be held in Normandy in France.