Fair Hill International, one of North America’s top three-day events, may become a four-star event under a proposal now being considered by the MarylandDepartment of Natural Resources, the owner of the land where the fall event is held.
This would make Fair Hill only the second 4-star event in North America. The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is the first and until now the only 4-star event in the Americas.
“We are excited by the possibility of hosting a 4-star event,” Fair Hill International executive director Carla Geiersbach said in a press release. “With only six [4-star] events in the whole world, it would be quite an honor to be selected. The coalition of groups working together on this project is truly amazing. We created a fantastic proposal.”
Consideration of the proposal was announced today in the same press release from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“Regardless of the outcome of the 4-star proposal, there remains tremendous interest and support to upgrade Fair Hill’s infrastructure for a variety of recreational uses,” said Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton. “A community-led foundation is now being developed to begin identifying potential funding for critical enhancements and improvements at the racetrack and fairgrounds.”
The proposal was sparked by a request by the United States Equestrian Federation for Fair Hill to host a world-class 4-star event. The announcement also coincides with the findings of a new study that shows Maryland’s horse industry is on the upswing again after years of stagnation.
“New economic data shows that the state’s equine industry has grown 23 percent in the last five years and contributes $1.15 billion in annual economic activity,” the chair of the Maryland Horse Industry Board Jim Steele said in the press release. “Improving equine facilities at Fair Hill is a vital part of this industry wide renaissance. We have to stay current and make sure our competition venues meet the needs of the equestrian community.”
Improvements to Fair Hill also are likely to increase the attractiveness of the site as an equestrian venue as well as benefit other users and visitors, according to the release.
“The proposed projects at Fair Hill could help establish it as a steeplechase destination throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond,” said National Steeplechase Association Director of Racing Bill Gallo.
The U.S.E.F conducted site visits this fall and will likely make a final decision on the 4-star event in 2017. It will then offer its recommendation to the Fédération Equestre Internationale for final determination. If the site is selected, Maryland would then join Kentucky as the only state to host both a Triple Crown race and a 4-star event.