Fair Hill Foundation, Inc. Updates

Construction Project Update

Fair Hill Foundation leads an exciting public private partnership aimed at revitalizing and enhancing equestrian facilities at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA). Planned facility improvements will produce a home for the 2020 CCI5* Event, and serve a broad base of existing user groups, among them the Eventing, Steeplechase and Turf Racing communities at Fair Hill.

Construction goals, slated to start later this spring, include a realigned, resurfaced and irrigated turf racecourse, competition rings with artificial footing, and a new Eventing CCI5* Cross Country Course.

Upgrades are concentrated within a 300-acre parcel of the over 5600-acre NRMA. The 300 acres comprise the Special Events Zone, and feature a historic turf course, shed row barns, and serve several large outdoor events each year.


Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Readying the CCI5* Event

Fair Hill International has a proud 30-year history of excellence in Eventing and is regarded as one of the top CCI4*-L (formerly CCI3*) competitions in the world. Fair Hill partners are underway to make the shift from CCI4*-L to CCI5*.

Ian Stark has been hired to design a new, world-class cross-country course using the Saw Mill field, timber and turf courses (the former long-format Roads & Tracks land). Stark expects the inaugural course to start and finish front of the grandstand, allowing spectators commanding views of obstacles without leaving their seats. During Stark’s March 2019 working trip to Fair Hill, he noted that he is impressed with the site’s undulating, natural terrain, and that there are amazing options on the new site.

The CCI5* event is being produced by the CCI5* Organizing Committee and facilitated by Maryland Sports Commission (MSC). The 5* Committee is a collaboration between MSC, Fair Hill International, Maryland Horse Industry Board, Fair Hill Foundation and other state and local partners. MSC devotes itself to developing national and international sporting events in Maryland. To-date work includes the Army Navy Games (2011, 2014 & 2016) the World Football Challenge (2009), and more. Using the strengths of each partner, Fair Hill will help domestic and international Eventing reach new heights.

Some of the changes that are underway for the CCI5*:

  • The competition site will move from the current CCI4*-L location on Gallaher Road to the turf course area to utilize upgraded infrastructure.
  • Dressage and show jumping phases will take place in a new arena in front of the existing grandstand.
  • Additional overlaid temporary facilities will augment permanent upgrades.

In 2017, United States Equestrian Federation recommended the Fair Hill International partnership to host the next international CCI5* event. The USEF competitive bid process yielded the recommendation. The strength of Fair Hill’s bid was due to several factors, among them:

  • Accessibility within the I-95 corridor for domestic and international travelers,
  • location within the three largest media markets on the East Coast,
  • strength of partnerships, and
  • stellar history hosting one of the best international CCI4-L*s in the world.

Fair Hill International hosts many other events, clinics, and schooling opportunities throughout the year. These include 6 recognized and schooling horse trials, a sanctioned Endurance competition, a combined driving event, and up to 12 scheduled cross-country schoolings.

Please visit FairHillInternational.com for a complete listing of all events.


Photo by Maggie Kimmitt

Ensuring Steeplechase and Turf Racing Futures

The original historic turf racecourse at Fair Hill was modeled after Aintree and constructed in the late 1920s by William du Pont, Jr. Now over 90 years old, the time has come for substantial upgrades to ensure top-of-the-line safety and performance standards.

To enhance du Pont’s original construction, the existing turf course will be realigned and resurfaced with safer turn radiuses, banked turns, consistent width, and temporary crossings and access points on the straights. The courses will also be irrigated, providing for top footing throughout the season. When complete, Fair Hill’s upgraded turf course will be among the best in the country.

Fair Hill aims to produce “boutique turf meets” and is currently allowed to run up to eight days of racing.  The mid-Atlantic location combined with the improved course conditions will lend itself to adding to the roster of turf races on the East coast.

Fair Hill Training Center (FHTC) trainers have formed the nucleus of a trainer advisory committee to provide a practical lens to the planning phase and to ensure that the new course meets flat racing standards and continues to serve as an excellent resource for FHTC trainers.

Fair Hill Foundation – Trainers Advisory Committee Members
Fenneka Bentley, Chuck Lawrence, Michael Matz, Elizabeth Merryman, Michael Moran, Graham Motion, Tom Proctor, Jonathan Sheppard


Reinvesting Revenues in Fair Hill’s Future

Recently, a legislative effort aimed at allowing for Fair Hill’s racing revenues to be reinvested into the Fair Hill facility achieved success. The bill, passed by both of Maryland’s chambers, is ready for Governor Larry Hogan’s signature.