Fair Hill Hosts a Successful Test Event for the Upcoming Maryland 5 Star

Photo by Amy Dragoo

Press Release via US Equestrian Communications Department: https://www.usef.org/media/press-releases/fair-hill-hosts-successful-test-event-for-the 

Elkton, MD – Last weekend’s event at Fair Hill located in Cecil County, Maryland marked an important milestone in the development of the planned Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill three-day event. Along with the horse trials for Novice through Intermediate, The Fair Hill Organizing Committee (FHOC) in partnership with Fair Hill International (FHI) hosted a CCI3*-S at the new Fair Hill Special Event Zone that served as a test event for next year’s debut CCI5*-L, which is pending final approval of the FEI. Once officially approved, it will be the seventh CCI5*-L event in the world and only the second to take place in the western hemisphere.

“Attending the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill test event last weekend was a privilege and a joy,” said Will Connell, US Equestrian Director of Sport. “The venue is stunning and most certainly stands shoulder to shoulder with other CCI5*-L and championships venues. To see such enthusiastic support from the state of Maryland was very encouraging and bodes well for the success of the event in 2021. As always, a test event throws up questions and areas that need addressing, but I believe the aim of the test event was achieved and I hope the FEI will now feel able to approve CCI5*-L status for this exciting prospective addition to the global eventing calendar.”

Fair Hill has been home to one of North America’s premiere three-day events for 30 years, but with the planned CCI5*-L, the State of Maryland through a public/private partnership upgraded the venue with the creation of the Fair Hill Special Event Zone. This area includes three new arenas and a new cross-country course designed by Ian Stark. Last weekend’s CCI3*-S was the first event to utilize the newly constructed Special Event Zone, and riders were pleased with the experience.

“The test event for the future CCI5*-L was incredibly promising, with the footing in the rings and on the cross-country exceeding expectations,” said Lauren Nicholson, who brought three horses to compete in the test event. “The future fall CCI5*-L will be an essential addition to the U.S. schedule and will be an incredibly important steppingstone in preparing our horses and riders for success overseas and at championships. Even with just a glimpse of what Ian Stark is going to do, the competition will require an incredibly fit and brave horse and will not be a soft CCI5*-L by any standards.”

Taking home the win in the CCI3*-S was USEF Elite Squad athlete Phillip Dutton with Fernhill Singapore, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Annie Jones, David Vos, and Thomas Tierney. With a double clear show jumping round and only two cross-country time faults added to their dressage score, the pair finished on a final score of 24.5.

USEF Development Squad athlete Ariel Grald rode Annie Eldridge’s Leamore Master Plan to a close second-place finish as one of only three pairs to complete cross-country with no time or jumping penalties. After turning in a double-clear stadium round, Grald and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding finished on their dressage score of 24.9.

USEF Development Squad athlete Maya Black rounded out the top three, riding Laurie Cameron’s Miks Master C, an 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, through two solid jumping rounds with just one cross-country time penalty to add to their dressage score of 26.4.

“I was absolutely blown away by the facility. It is an incredible venue,” said U.S. Olympic Team veteran Boyd Martin, who observed the event. “The cross country and the dressage and jumping rings are some of the best I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. It’s very exciting to think what this place is going to contribute to horse sports in America for years to come.”

The test event provides the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) with an opportunity to observe the venue, which is an essential part of the approval process for the new CCI5*-L designation. After the original test event in April was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting hold on competitions, the CCI3*-S was added to the annual August Fair Hill International Horse Trials to provide this test event opportunity.

The inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill is now scheduled to take place October 14-17, 2021, pending FEI approval.

“There is a huge amount of enthusiasm from the riders after the test event at the prospect of having another CCI5*-L in the U.S.” says U.S. Performance Director Erik Duvander. “The arenas are world class and rival any other top venue in the world, and the cross country is a galloping course with terrain. It is exciting to think about how this new CCI5*-L will impact the U.S. High Performance program and our future teams.”

Find out more about the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill at maryland5star.us.