Site found for horse rid­ing events

$20M to $30M boon for econ­omy

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY JEFF BARKER

ELKTON, MD. | The U.S. Eques­trian Fed­er­a­tion’s board of di­rec­tors has cho­sen Mary­land’s Fair Hill over a com­pet­ing site in Vir­ginia to per­ma­nently host an an­nual in­ter­na­tional event of jump­ing, cross coun­try and dres­sage.

The board made the de­ci­sion last week to rec­om­mend Fair Hill over the other fi­nal­ist, Great Meadow In­ter­na­tional in The Plains, Vir­ginia.

The Ken­tucky-based fed­er­a­tion’s rec­om­men­da­tion still must be ap­proved by the Fed­er­a­tion Equestre In­ter­na­tionale, the in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­ing body for the Olympic sport known as “event­ing.” A de­ci­sion is ex­pected this fall.

The Amer­i­can fed­er­a­tion pre­vi­ously had said that it was con­fi­dent that which­ever Amer­i­can venue it se­lected would ex­ceed the in­ter­na­tional group’s re­quire­ments.

The event is known in horse cir­cles as a “four-star.” Fair Hill would be­come just the sec­ond Amer­i­can site — and sev­enth in the world — to host one.

The com­pe­ti­tion, which spans four days, could bring an es­ti­mated eco­nomic im­pact to the state of $20 mil­lion to $30 mil­lion per year, ac­cord­ing to Terry Has­sel­tine, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mary­land Sports, which seeks to draw large sport­ing events to the state.

The non­profit Fair Hill In­ter­na­tional hosts a three-star eques­trian event at the site each Oc­to­ber at­tended by about 15,000 peo­ple.

The four-star event is more chal­leng­ing than the three-star, with higher fences for jump­ing and a more chal­leng­ing cross-coun­try course.

Fair Hill said as many as 80,000 spec­ta­tors may at­tend over the four days.

Fair Hill’s nom­i­na­tion to host the event “is a re­flec­tion of our rich eques­trian tra­di­tion and es­tab­lishes our state as a premier des­ti­na­tion for eques­trian events and equine ac­tiv­i­ties,” Gov. Larry Ho­gan said in a news re­lease.

“We are proud that nu­mer­ous pri­vate sec­tor or­ga­ni­za­tions, boards, and state and county agen­cies and elected of­fi­cials all worked to­gether to get Mary­land to this point in the process, and we are ex­tremely op­ti­mistic that we will se­cure fi­nal ap­proval,” Mr. Ho­gan said.

If ap­proved by the in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­ing body, the event would be held in 2019 fol­low­ing a se­ries of up­grades to the site.

“This an­nounce­ment has awak­ened a sleep­ing gi­ant, which is our $1 bil­lion­plus equine in­dus­try,” Ross Ped­di­cord, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Horse In­dus­try Board, said in a writ­ten state­ment. “It will make Mary­land and the Mid-At­lantic re­gion the cen­ter of the in­ter­na­tional horse world each fall and have a last­ing im­pact on our in­dus­try for years to come.”

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