Fair Hill International 2016
The 2016 Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International officially kicks off today, October 12 with the first horse inspection scheduled at 1 p.m. Currently there are just under 50 entries in the CCI2* and just over 50 entries in the CCI3*. Representing Maryland in the CCI2* will be Cary Chavis (DC), Grace Fulton (Finksburg) and Marilyn Little (Frederick). In the CCI3*, Marilyn Little has two horses as does Colleen Rutledge (Frederick). Also competing in the CCI3* are Savannah Fulton (Finksburg) and Lillian Heard (Poolesville).
The Young Event Horse East Coast Championships start on Thursday, October 13 and conclude on Friday, October 14. Entry numbers this year are at an all time high with nearly 60 between the 5-year-old and 4-year-old divisions.
Fair Hill & The 4-Star (first published in the October 2016 print edition)
This past summer, the board of directors of Fair Hill International submitted a bid to the United States Equestrian Federation to become only the second 4-Star event in the United States (and the seventh in the world). This new Olympic-caliber event would be held in the autumn of 2018. FHI currently hosts a 3-star and 2-star event in October each year.
The only 4-Star currently in the U.S. is The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event held each April. If Fair Hill were to become a 4-Star event, Maryland then would equal Kentucky as having a Triple Crown race (the Preakness) and a 4-Star event, Fair Hill International.
Trish Gilbert (FHI chairman) and Carla Geiersbach (FHI executive director) are working closely with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Horse Industry Board in developing the bid. The following team has been assembled to assist:
· Facility Designer Todd Gralla from Populous (designer of the equestrian venue for the 2012 London Olympics)
· Course Designer Derek DeGrazia (Fair Hill course designer and course designer for 2020 Tokyo Olympics)
· Maryland Director of Sports Terry Hasseltine (also vice president of the MD Stadium Authority)
The next step in the process will be for the USEF to schedule a site visit. Four other U.S. sites have also submitted bids; all sites are privately owned except for Fair Hill.
The Fair Hill Foundation (first published in the October 2016 print edition)
Headed by Sam Slater, The Fair Hill Foundation has been established to help maintain and guide the equestrian aspects of Fair Hill. The more than 5,000-acre natural resource management area is overseen by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Various parts of the property are leased out for a variety of private uses, from individuals leasing barns and paddocks to organizations leasing office space (such as the National Steeplechase Association). A variety of activity organizations lease different parts of the grounds for events, ranging from equine-related (Fair Hill Races, Fair Hill International) to agricultural (the county fair) to biking and hiking groups – and even demolition derbies. The property includes a nature center, hiking, biking, bridle and carriage trails, pavilions, grandstands, barns, arenas, steeplechase courses, cross-country courses and more. What has been lacking is an overall vision and plan for the property, particularly to protect, preserve and perpetuate the initial equine-focused vision of founder William duPont. The Fair Hill Foundation will help to direct such a vision, will assist in brokering the relationships between the various government agencies and nonprofit organizations, and will assist in raising funds.
Initial priorities include developing the race course area into a “National Steeplechase Racing and Training Center,” as well as creating a equine event development zone, which would help to enhance FHI’s bid for a 4-Star.