Jerez de la Frontera (ESP)
When the fourth FEI World Equestrian Games™ were staged in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in 2002, the future of the fixture was hanging in the balance; a natural response to a rather chequered history. That said there was great optimism during the years running up to the event: the Games had been awarded to the Spanish city in 1997, so there was plenty of time to work up enthusiasm.
It is likely however that another disaster would definitely have put an end to the event and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Europe in 2001 did nothing to boost confidence in its survival. However this time, the equestrian community breathed a sigh of relief, when sufficient financial backing and thorough organisation led to a very successful edition of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG). Indeed, Jerez 2002 kicked off in style and was afterwards hailed a great success. A success which proved that, when well organised, they are truly the crown of the FEI Championships.
The organisers of Jerez had established a working committee that benefited from the support of the four levels of local and national government, greatly increasing the cohesion and ease with which the event ran. Several measures were put in place to increase funding, including a tombola, and the budget was divided in a clear way, separating infrastructure costs, preparation costs and running costs, thus making it easier to allocate funds and keep up with costs.
Nevertheless, the fact that they were so well-organised also meant that costs were higher than they might have otherwise been as there was a year or two between the venue being ready and the Games taking place.
For the first time, the WEG included seven disciplines with Reining making a strong and most appreciated first appearance. The great spectator attendance and the attention from the media brought considerable benefits to the host city as well as the whole province. Moreover, Andalusia, the Spanish province where Jerez is located, is true horse country, enjoying a rich equestrian tradition going back centuries. Jerez is the city of the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Equestre (Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art), a major ambassador for the area.
In sporting terms, the event was simply excellent. Three different venues hosted the different events, including the local football stadium for Jumping and Dressage and a covered arena for the Vaulting and Reining.