(CNN) -

More than 70 nations, 1,000 athletes and as many horses. The World Equestrian Games are upon us.

The biggest equestrian event outside the Olympics comes to Normandy, France, on Monday for two weeks of drama, daring, dressage and ... "Don Johnson."

Normandy claims to be home to 93,000 horses and more than 400 equestrian centers, but France has never seen anything on the scale of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (often shortened to "WEG").

You can win world titles in no fewer than eight types of horse sport at the four-yearly showpiece. All three Olympic equestrian disciplines are involved, alongside the Paralympic sport of para-dressage.

So what should you expect over the next two weeks? Where to look? Who to follow? CNN World Sport answers those questions and more.

1. Admire the 'Versailles of horses'

That's the French nickname for Haras du Pin, a magnificent estate built in the 18th century which will host the eventing competition -- a combination of dressage, cross-country riding and showjumping.

One of 22 National Studs across France, the Haras du Pin was founded on the orders of Louis XIV in 1715. The cross-country on August 30, in particular, should look spectacular against this backdrop.

However, with seven more events being held at WEG, this is not the only venue worth your time.

Dressage, where horses perform complex maneuvers -- sometimes to music -- across what looks like an oversized sandpit, takes place inside the Stade Michel D'Ornano in Caen -- usually the home of the city's soccer team.

Horseball, a fun, fast-paced mixture of rugby and basketball on horseback, appears as a demonstration sport in Saint Lo. Rich in history, the small town was inhabited for millennia before its almost total destruction during World War Two's Battle of Normandy in 1944.

2. Beware the Brits

This is the rule all other teams must follow at WEG, given the prominence of British riders in the world rankings right now.

This year, for the first time, Britain has number-one riders in all three Olympic equestrian sports: dressage, eventing and jumping.

Scott Brash, from Peebles in Scotland, is the world's leading showjumper and comes to Caen off the back of a home victory in the London leg of the prestigious Global Champions Tour, while William Fox-Pitt is an eventing superstar and has already won one of his sport's biggest titles, in Lexington, Kentucky, this year.

Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin won double gold for Britain at the London 2012 Olympics -- there are individual and team medals available in all of these disciplines -- and has dominated her sport since, but recently looked vulnerable when she finished a lowly sixth at a grand prix event in Aachen, Germany.

However, the 29-year-old immediately won Aachen's freestyle event (these routines are performed to music) and now dismisses that blip as "a wake-up call" that she and her horse, Valegro, needed.

Nowhere is Britain more dominant than in para-dressage, the Paralympic discipline, where it has won every major team title of the past two decades.

Competition to make the British team is so fierce that top rider Lee Pearson, the 40-year-old winner of 10 Paralympic titles, was dropped for last year's European championships but is now back in the lineup for WEG.

3. Root for Rio

The next Olympic Games will be held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and this year's WEG is the first chance for riders to earn places for their countries.

Watch the team events to see who qualifies: the top three in dressage and para-dressage, plus the five best in jumping and eventing's six highest-ranked nations, will all be celebrating their tickets to the Olympics.

In dressage and para-dressage, look for Germany and the Netherlands to rival Britain and sew up Olympic berths -- though eye-catching black stallion Totilas, dubbed a "rock star" of dressage for his expressive style, has been ruled out of contention through injury for Germany.

New Zealand is a world power in eventing, and two legends of the sport -- Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson -- will be competing in Normandy.

Nicholson and his horse Nereo finished third at the last WEG, held in the U.S. state of Kentucky in 2010, and are back to try for more. Two-time Olympic champion Todd, meanwhile, has spent time coaching members of the Brazilian team ahead of their home Games.

Also keep an eye on Germany's Michael Jung, too, who is the defending world champion.

Showjumping could be a chance for the host nation to shine, alongside near neighbor Germany. From the United States, watch out for Beezie Madden, twice an Olympic champion and winner of last season's World Cup title. The 50-year-old had surgery to repair a broken collarbone in May, but has won events since and is certainly a contender.

4. Relish the Royals

If royal-watching is your thing, this is the place to be.

Zara Phillips, the Queen's granddaughter, is one of the best-known -- and best, period -- eventers in her sport.

The 33-year-old is a multiple European champion, the 2006 world champion and a team silver medalist from London 2012. "This is a fantastic championship to be at and be involved in," she says of WEG.

Phillips gave birth to her first child, daughter Mia, in January but has returned so swiftly to form with her horse High Kingdom that Britain's selectors could not overlook her.

Speaking of royals, even the chief of world horse sport's governing body, the FEI, is a princess.

Princess Haya, the 40-year-old FEI president and one of few women currently leading global sports organizations, is married to Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai.

She recently turned down the chance to stand for a third term as president, which means the next World Equestrian Games will take place under a new leader. An election to replace her will be held in December.

5. Discover Damon Hill

You remember Damon Hill, right? Famed Formula One rival of Michael Schumacher and winner of the 1996 world championship?

Well, this isn't him. This is a 14-year-old horse from Germany.

Not only that, Damon Hill is really something at dressage. With Helen Langehanenberg in the saddle, Damon has serious moves: enough to be second in the world behind Britain's Charlotte Dujardin.

They won Olympic silver in 2012 and last season's World Cup title, so they could well prove a winning formula in Normandy.