Samorin in Slovakia looks set to run the 2022 World Equestrian Games, after the FEI confirmed it would not re-open the bidding following Kentucky’s withdrawal last week.
Only two venues applied to be considered for the 2022 renewal – the lowest number in the history of the WEG.
Samorin – developed by businessman Mario Hoffman, and officially known as the Napoli Slovak Equestrian Club – must be ratified by the FEI General Assembly in November.
But now it is aware there is no rival bid, Samorin will have the longest lead-time of any recent WEG venue. In a further head-start, Samorin already boasts a lavishly-appointed facility of indoor and outdoor arenas and permanent barn stabling servicing an established calendar of FEI jumping, dressage and endurance competitions. Covering 200 acres, it is one of the most extensive new-builds in Europe and also has a racetrack.
The FEI said today: “The bid process will not be re-opened. We have a very solid bid for the 2022 Games from our candidate Samorin in Slovakia, and are looking forward to working through the remaining bid process, including full assessment of the venue by the FEI Evaluation Commission prior to allocation of the 2022 Games by the FEI Bureau in November this year.”
Hoffman, 49, is a financier and keen all-round amateur sportsman. He is a former world dragon racing champion and endurance enthusiast.
Samorin hosted the 2015 European endurance championships and stepped in to host the 2016 world endurance championship after the FEI removed them from Dubai because “horse welfare could not be guaranteed.” Samorin also put itself forward after Bromont dropped out of WEG 2018.
Samorin did, though, come under scrutiny over the poor handling of an equine fatality at the endurance championships last September. The recent conclusions of an investigation by the FEI’s Equine Community Integrity Unit have led to the FEI requiring all organising committees to adopt more “stringent protocols” for the speedy transport of carcasses to a pathology facility. The FEI said it had “in-depth” discussions with Samorin about these oversights, which emerged after the UAE team horse Ajayeb broke her foreleg.
For the ride, no radio communications had been provided, and vets were using their own mobile phones in an area with over-loaded signal. A shortage of horse ambulances led to Ajayeb’s body being unloaded so that the trailer could be used for a viable casualty.
Then it emerged that the paperwork required for shipping the body over the border to Austria for autopsy had not been anticipated. A Slovakian facility then agreed to perform the post mortem examination, but Ajayeb failed to arrive and was traced to a livestock crematorium.
A FEI spokesman said: “The investigation has been completed and has revealed that there were some shortcomings in the transport of the mare to the laboratory but there was no evidence of malpractice.
“The findings also highlighted that there were challenges as the incident happened on a non-business day and that there were some paperwork and authorisation issues related to legislation about transportation in different countries.
“The FEI has now put in place more stringent requirements for Organising Committees to ensure protocols for transportation of equine fatalities to a post mortem facility are in place prior to the start of the event.”