Normandy chosen for 2014 WEG

The Normandy region of France, which includes Lexington's Sister City of Deauville and the D-day invasion beaches, will host the 2014 World Equestrian Games, the Fédération Equestre Internationale said Tuesday.

Normandy was runner-up in 2005, when FEI, the international governing body for equestrian sports, awarded the 2010 Games to Lexington.

Now called the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the 16 days of competition will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 18 months, beginning Sept. 25, 2010.

The award of the 2014 Games to Normandy is "an important development for the future of our sport," said FEI's president, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.

Normandy presented "a project of outstanding quality and vision which enjoys the support of the French government and regional authorities, and presents us as a sport with an exceptional platform in the very heart of a region that shares our passion for horses," she said.

Philippe Duron, mayor of Caen, capital of the region, said the decision is "wonderful recognition" for the city. Caen calls itself "the cradle of horse riding" because the first trotting horse races occurred there in 1837.

"It is the proof that 'yes we Caen!'" Duron said, echoing the "yes we can" slogan used by President Barack Obama in the last U.S. election.

The economic impact of the Games could be enhanced by the 70th anniversary of the D-day invasion in Normandy during World War II, which will occur in 2014 and provide another reason for tourists to visit the area.

Deauville, an English Channel resort near Caen, has numerous horse farms, two race tracks, a training center and a horse auction facility. It became Lexington's first Sister City in 1957.

The World Equestrian Games are held every four years and include championships in jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting, reining and para-equestrian.

In 2010, organizers of the Lexington Games expect to sell 600,000 tickets and attract 30,000 to 65,000 spectators each day. More than 900 horses and 800 riders and drivers from 60 nations are expected to participate.

The Games will be televised by NBC and other networks around the world.