Dec 17, 2019

Update from the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Jeff Newman. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Jeff Newman, President and CEO of the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill, gave a presentation at the 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention about the progress that has taken place at Fair Hill towards preparing the facility to host the five-star next October. The Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill will take place October 15-18, 2020.

Newman began with a history behind the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill. The Maryland Stadium Authority did studies in 2005, 2012, and 2015 along with the Maryland Horse Industry Board and determined the need for Maryland park system. Part of that study identified Fair Hill as a venue for eventing, steeplechasing, and turf racing.

Three new arenas have been built in the infield of the track. Noll Smith Photo.

In response, the Fair Hill Foundation was formed, a 50-50 public-private partnership that in turn created the plan for the Fair Hill Special Event Zone. There are three phases to the plan for the Special Event Zone and work is well underway on phase one.

“Come the end of December, we will have three arenas with a fourth graded, a brand-new oval track for turf racing, a brand-new steeplechase course for timber racing, irrigation ponds, and the cross-country course is in progress,” said Newman.

“Fair Hill is a fascinating facility – 6,000 acres with the special event zone making up 200 acres of that,” he continued. “What we’re hoping to do is utilize the full facility when we bring the Maryland Five-Star. We had the event in the backyard and now we're bringing the event to the front yard.”

New Fair Hill banks. Noll Smith Photo.

Newman explained that the Fair Hill Organizing Committee developed by the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland will serve as event oversight, working in partnership with Fair Hill International as the competition management. Together they form the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill.

Newman reviewed some specifics pertaining to the arenas, turf track, timber tracks, and irrigation ponds before turning the microphone over to Mary Coldren of Fair Hill International to discuss the cross-country course, being designed by Ian Stark and built by Eric Bull.

Coldren outlined how the new track will start by the new turf track and travel along Route 213 before cutting through the woods – an area that underwent major tree-clearing to create new galloping lanes – and then travel through the middle field to the sawmill field, which currently is home to the Fair Hill Horse Trials cross-country courses. The track will loop through the large new water complex – one of four on course - before coming back the way it came and finishing by the start.

The new water complex under construction. Noll Smith Photo.

“Ian, being a good racing fellow, didn’t want to take a chance on ruining the new turf track," Coldren explained. “They’re not racing on it either in 2020, they’re giving the footing time to establish itself. Moving on after 2020 there will be fences on the oval track.”

Newman closed by outlining the event’s plans for the coming year, which includes marketing the event to those who might not know about Fair Hill and its close proximity to D.C., and Baltimore. Newman recognizes the importance of spreading the word about Fair Hill so that the event can gain first a regional, then a national, then an international reputation for excellence in equestrian sport.

For more information about the Maryland Five-Star at Fair Hill, visit their website.

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