The Fair Hill Organizing Committee (FHOC), an affiliate of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland (The Sport Corp.), today announced the inaugural Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill will take place October 14-17, 2021. Health and safety factors, in addition to other challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, led to a final decision to postpone the international three-day eventing competition originally scheduled for this October at the newly constructed Special Event Zone at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Cecil County, Maryland. Event organizers and partners are now focused on producing the maiden event next year that will welcome a field of international competitors, as well as spectators traveling to the event from around the world.
The FHOC made their decision after a thorough consultation with the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill planning committee, its competition management partner, Fair Hill International (FHI), as well as other key constituents including the State of Maryland and Cecil County. The consensus was made that not being able to guarantee the health and safety of everyone and producing the event in a limited capacity was not favorable for the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill’s inaugural year.
“It was a very difficult decision and we are very disappointed for the competitors, fans, and eventing community,” said Jeff Newman, President of the Fair Hill Organizing Committee. “The Fair Hill Organizing Committee was created and tasked to plan and produce the inaugural Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill as a world-class, international sporting event that includes an abundance of fan offerings drawing spectators from around the world to Cecil County and surrounding region.”
Newman added, “From the start of the pandemic until now, like many sports and entertainment properties, we've fully vetted out different scenarios ranging from a scaled-back event with some fans, a competition-only event without spectators, or postponing the event to 2021. Ultimately, we felt that the uncertainties and risks that will remain throughout the year are too great to overcome. As a result, with the support of our sponsors and key constituents, postponing the inaugural event to 2021 best enables us to achieve our original goals and set the foundation for a tradition that will continue for many years.”
The Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill is the newest CCI5*-L competition added to the international eventing circuit. The event is one of only seven eventing competitions in the world, and second in the United States with the elite five-star distinction. At the time of this announcement, six out of the seven five-star rated international events have been canceled in 2020 due to similar implications related to the pandemic.
Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan said, “The great state of Maryland remains a beacon for world-class events. We’re looking forward to hosting this international equestrian event in 2021 at Fair Hill’s newly designed Special Event Zone, while keeping public health and safety at the forefront of our planning. Maryland has deep roots in the equine industry and the Maryland Five-Star will mark a new era for the sport of eventing in our state."
Maryland’s Secretary of Natural Resources, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, also supported the decision to postpone the event. She stated, “The Maryland Department of Natural Resources understands that this was a hard decision for the Fair Hill Organizing Committee and we fully support putting the health and well-being of participants, organizers, and staff first. We stand ready to host the Maryland Five-Star next year at our beautiful, world-class facility and Special Event Zone at Fair Hill should it be safe to do so."
"Cecil County remains fully committed to support the efforts of The Fair Hill Organizing Committee, Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill, and the Fair Hill Special Event Zone,” said Cecil County’s County Executive, Dr. Alan McCarthy. “We eagerly look forward to hosting a great event in 2021 and showcasing all of the county's incredible offerings to fans from around the world.”
The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), and United States Eventing Association (USEA) were also informed, supported FHOC’s decision, and confirmed the new dates on the schedule for the event in October 2021.
“We recognize the difficulty of the decision to cancel the 2020 Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill considering the excitement and positive momentum building towards the inaugural event in October. We look forward to working with the Organizing Committee to support a successful event in 2021,” commented Bill Moroney, Chief Executive Officer of US Equestrian. “The 2020 USEF CCI3*-L National Championship will be reallocated to a new venue and details will be announced in the coming weeks.”
“At the United States Eventing Association we completely support the decision of the organizing committee of the new Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill," said Rob Burk, USEA CEO. "We will look forward to the five-star occurring in the fall of 2021 for the first time in the U.S. Earlier this year I was lucky to see many of the improvements made to the park and all of those involved should be incredibly proud of the direction that the facility is headed. This will be an event we can all be proud of that will stand amongst the best in the world. We have also been pleased with the work that the organizing committee has done with the Young Event Horse East Coast Championships and we can’t wait to see their continued growth and improvement at Fair Hill in 2021.”
The USEA Young Event Horse Committee is scheduled to meet next week to discuss options for the 2020 USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships which were to be held at the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill. Details will be released as soon as they are available.
Mike Gill and Michael Hankin will remain as the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill’s Co-Chairs. They said, “Ultimately, postponing the event to 2021 was the right move for the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill’s first year because health and safety must come first. Our goal from the start was to showcase Maryland Pride to attending fans from around the world while also delivering a top-class competition for the riders and horses. However, due to the incredible challenges and uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, that's just not possible this year. We look forward to producing an incredible event in 2021 and providing an economic stimulus.”
Fair Hill’s newly built Special Event Zone serving as the venue for the Maryland Five-Star features a new Ian Stark-designed cross-country course, as well as new dressage and show jumping areas constructed in the infield of the historic turf track. The USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championships and USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championship will run concurrently with the CCI5*-L competition in 2021.
For more information and to stay informed with Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill updates, visit Maryland5Star.us
Regardless of the level at which a horse is competing, its veterinary team is at the forefront of most decisions regarding its career and well-being. Liz Arbittier, VMD, CVA, has been working with equine athletes for over two decades. Graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) in 2001, she worked in private practice with a focus on sports medicine and pre-purchase exams until joining Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center Field Service team in 2013. Situated in the heart of Area II’s eventing scene, the team provides ambulatory services to the surrounding area, which is home to multiple Olympians.
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