first published in the March 2021 Equiery

As of press, the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill is a go! “We don’t know for sure what the spectator options will be at this point, but we are moving ahead with the event for 2021,” said Maryland 5 Star Media and Communications Director Chris Daley. The addition of the Maryland 5 Star to the FEI calendar creates a spring and fall five-star opportunity here in the U.S.

In December 2020, the FEI officially granted the five-star status to the Fair Hill event after evaluating the facility during its test event in August 2020. The test event, and now the five-star, is held at the facility’s new Fair Hill Special Event Zone. “The five-star designation is the top level of our sport and in turn, there is an extensive evaluation process that takes place in order to host such an event,” said Catrin Norinder, Director FEI Olympic Games and Eventing. “Despite the challenges 2020 has presented, the organizers have made tremendous strides and met the necessary requirements to date, and the FEI Eventing Committee supported its inclusion in the FEI calendar.”

The process to become a five-star is long indeed, and for Fair Hill started back in 2017. That is when the USEF selected Fair Hill as a potential host site for the world’s newest CCI5*-L competition. Construction for Phase One of the project was completed last year with the new cross-country course designed by Ian Stark of Great Britain. The event was supposed to run last fall but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided to defer for one year.

The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill is scheduled for October 14-17 and will benefit the Maryland Food Bank. The Maryland Food Bank is a nonprofit, hunger-relief organization dedicated to feeding people, strengthening communities and ending hunger for Marylanders.

In preparation for the big event, the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill has added a few team members with event industry veteran Dan Laufer and equestrian industry veteran Connie Sawyer. Laufer will serve as the event’s Director of Operations with Sawyer as its Broadcast Production Director.
In addition, Kaityln McNerney has been promoted to Event Director-Partnerships & Experiential, Kaleigh Collett has been promoted to Event Manager-Marketing, Promotion & Competition Management, and Marissa Melzer has been promoted to Event Manager-Operations, Tickets & Hospitality.

Keep checking and future Equiery issues for updates and announcements as we get closer to the big event!

YEH Champs Return to Fair Hill
The Young Event Horse East Coast Championships are set to run this fall to Fair Hill as part of the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. The West Coast Championships will be held at Twin Rivers Ranch in California. The East Coast YEH championships have been held at Fair Hill for the past several years and this year will take place on Thursday, October 14 and Friday, October 15. According to a U.S. Eventing Association press release, all phases of the 4-Year-Old division will be held on Thursday, with the 5-Year-Olds competing in dressage and conformation on Thursday and the jumping/gallop phase on Friday.

The Dutta Corporation returns as the YEH Championships title sponsor for both championships.
To qualify for the East Coast championships, horses must earn a score of 75% or higher at any YEH qualifier during the 2021 season. Currently, there are 13 YEH qualifiers on the Area II schedule, six of which are held in Maryland. The East Coast championships will accept up to 40 qualified horses in the 4-Year-Old division and up to 55 horses in the 5-Year-Old division. If entries fill, a waitlist will be made with horses ranked in order of qualifying scores with the highest scoring horses being taken off the waitlist first if spaces open up.

In addition to national championship honors, 5-Year-Old competitors will be riding for the Holekamp/Turner YEH Lion d’Angers Grant. This grant includes a round-trip flight donated by The Dutta Corp. to France to compete in the FEI World Young Horse Championship as a seven year old. The grant winner will also receive $17,500 if the horse is an American-bred and $8,000 if imported.