Princess Haya faces a contest to retain the FEI presidency with confirmation that Swiss financier Pierre Genecand, 64, is a candidate.

Genecand, a leading figure in both Swiss showjumping and polo, has been formally  backed by the Swiss Equestrian Federation, which has strongly criticised Haya’s “conflicted” status as the wife of Sheikh Mohammed. The Sheikh’s Dubai stables have been at the centre of the horse welfare crisis raging in endurance racing for the past 12 months.

Princess Haya originally declared she would not seek re-election at the completion of her maximum 2 terms, but in April national federations approved a statute change that would permit Haya a third term.

Genecand is an insurance broker by profession. He speaks five languages and divides his time between homes in Geneva and Buenos Aires. He has been president of the Hublot Polo Gold Cup Gstaad for 20 years, is past president of Geneva horse show, and was on the organising committee of the 1998 WEG in Rome.

He regards his election prospects as “undiminished,” despite broad support for Princess Haya.

“There is still a long way to go before the elections,” he said. Describing himself as “an independent president with no conflicting interests,” he aims increase the focus on sport rather than commercial interests – with an “overriding goal” being the well-being of horses.

Princess Haya easily defeated two other opponents when re-elected 4 years ago.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (17 July, 2014)