The team behind the Fair Hill CCI**** bid was excited to begin construction on a future CCI****, to be held in 2019. But the approval of a new star system for international events at the Fédération Equestre Internationale General Assembly in November put the event’s bid up in the air.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation’s recommendation for Fair Hill International was expected to be considered for FEI approval at that meeting, but because the FEI is still considering specific requirements for what will now be known as a five-star, Fair Hill and its partners will wait to proceed until specifics are released.
“We understand the FEI’s decision to reorganize the star system and the requirements for each level,” said Carla Geiersbach, Fair Hill International’s executive director. “However, until we know these new requirements, it makes no sense to move forward blindly. We don’t want to build a state-of-the-art facility to the wrong specifications. We are committed to presenting an event at the pinnacle of the sport and will march ahead as soon as the FEI releases its new parameters.”
David O’Connor, newly elected chair of the FEI Eventing Committee, said the organization is working on specifics that would differentiate a five-star from a five-star major.
“The question is, in a five-star, what’s a regular five-star and a five-star major, which then would allow for the longer distances, et cetera, that are currently in practice,” he said. “Those parameters are currently being discussed. Is every event a five-star major? Are there events that are not majors, but they are five-stars? I’ve just taken over the Eventing Committee. Our first meeting won’t be until the end of March. Hopefully we’ll have some recommendations by then.”
O’Connor said existing four-stars (future five-stars) will have the opportunity to be part of the conversation to decide whether they’re equipped to meet the requirements.
“It’s a process, and process does take awhile. Coming into this, I believe that the stakeholders have input, and having time for that input is very important,” he said. “Then the thoughts and decisions can be made, and the proper parameters can be outlined. But I think the input from the world right now is very important. Until the sport decides what direction the whole thing goes, with input from around the world, that’s going to impact the decision Fair Hill’s going to make individually.”
A spokesperson from the FEI said that the Eventing Technical Committee will ultimately approve or deny Fair Hill’s proposal.
“Further requirements for the five-star category will be proposed and need to be presented as part of the 2018 General Assembly proposals to come into effect in 2019. Fair Hill approval is postponed until all of this is in place,” they said.