FAIR HILL, Md.--With $1 million in funding for Fair Hill improvements having been approved, Fair Hill officials are hopeful that they will get the 5* approval from the FEI that they have requested for the Fair Hill International three-day event, held annually in the fall.
In an effort to keep Eventing in the Olympics, the FEI prefigured its rating system, adding a new introductory level in the hopes of encouraging more, new countries to host Eventing competitions with the end result being more countries entering teams in Olympic Eventing.
Under the new system, which comes into effect in 2019, there are now five categories ranging from 1* to 5*, with those events that previously held a 4*, or top, rating, probably being moved up to 5*.
Fair Hill International is a 3* but will be categorized as a 4* next year under the new protocol, but the Event has applied for a 5* rating.
Fair Hill International was one of five U.S. sites bidding to host a 5*, and it was chosen by the USEF last July to be this country's second 5*, Kentucky being the first.
The new technical requirements necessary to meet the new 5* standard will be ratified by the FEI in July, and Fair Hill International needs to see those new requirements to make sure that it meets all of them.
MARYLAND'S Board of Public Works unanimously approved a Maryland Department of Natural Resources item that will authorize $1 million for design improvement services at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in anticipation of the Cecil County site hosting a newly-designated, international equestrian event.
The venue is slated to become only one of seven sites in the world to host a premier 4* or 5* three-day eventing competition.
“The state is committed to bringing this world-renowned equestrian eventing competition to Cecil County and Fair Hill,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “Working together with our friends and partners in the private and public sectors, we will make Maryland the premier destination for equestrian and equine events, and add yet another chapter to our storied horse racing history and legacy.”
The proposed improvements at Fair Hill, which will likely be phased in over the next few years, will update and upgrade the state park’s facilities and infrastructure, including its campground, grandstands, training areas, turf courses, and related irrigation and transportation needs.
The investments are essential for the site to host major equine events and other recreational opportunities, and necessary for Maryland to maintain its unique status as an equestrian epicenter.
The Board of Public Works approved transferring $1 million in Program Open Space Natural Resources Development Funds from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to the Maryland Stadium Authority.
The authority estimates the design phase of the project to cost about $2 million.
In addition to the state’s investment, another $1 million is being pledged in private money through the Fair Hill Foundation, Inc.
The Fair Hill International will be moved from its present location west to the area where the races are held before a grandstand and surrounding territory.
The proposed cross country course would provide spectators in the grandstand with a view of about 50 percent of the course.
The grandstand will stay the same, but it will be renovated and updated.
Improvements to the grounds have already begun,but major improvements will begin after the races in May 2019, and plans are for them to be completed by November, 2019.
The Fair Hill International event will move to the new area in the fall of 2020, and it has applied to USEF for dates in October, 2020, to hold its first competition in the new area.
Improvements to the facility would also allow for added days of racing.