A First Look At The Maryland 5 Star Cross-Country Course

Oct 14, 2021 - 8:19 AM

Elkton, Md.—Oct. 14

Dressage gets underway today at the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, but what everybody is most excited to see is the cross-country. Longtime attendees of the venue’s previous four-star long won’t recognize much on Ian Stark’s course. It’s an entirely new route in a new location, running from Fair Hill’s steeplechase track out to the Sawmill Road Field, where cross-country is held for national-level horse trials, before looping back to finish at the steeplechase course.

Stark has said he likes to build horse-friendly courses with “rider frightener” fences, and there are plenty of those to be found on the 11-minute track.

We took a walk around the course to give you a first glimpse at what’s in store for riders on Saturday:

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Kimberly Loushin Photos
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Fence 1: The Maryland Flower Ramp
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Fence 2: The Land Rover Flower Table
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Fence 3AB: The Paul Bunyan Tables. The first combination on course, riders will jump this then turn left to jump another table of similar dimensions.
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Fence 4AB: The Viaduct. Seems simple, right?
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Just kidding. Down a steep hill to a ditch and brush.
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Fence 5AB: Ceciil County Tourism C&D Canal Water, the first water complex on course.
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Fence 6: Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area Covered Bridge, a shout-out to an iconic covered bridge on the historic property.
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Fence 7AB: Green Rolltop Brush. Riders will turn right after this fence to a skinny.

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Fence 9ABC: Fair Hill Foundation Rail, Ditch and Wedge—aka, the coffin.
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Fence 10AB: Brush Shoulder to Skinny Brush Oxer

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Fence 11: It’s a sharp right turn from 10B to this brush corner.
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Fence 12: The Dubarry Stick Pile, complete with larger-than-life Dubarrys.
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Fence 13AB: The Timber Rails
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Fence 14: The Cedar Brush Oxer
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Fence 15ABCDEF: The Maryland Crab Water presented by Mars. There’s a gap before and a big drop after this larger-than-life depiction of one of Maryland’s famous blue crabs, which greets riders to the main water complex.
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Riders taking the long route will jump a smaller 15A crab fence that is also on the CCI3*-L course then come to this, one of several single fences offering an easier path but more individual efforts.
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But those going the direct route will jump out this way, over 15CDE which includes a ditch in front of the up bank.
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There’s lots to look at around this complex, including this depiction of a crabbing boat. It’s not a flagged obstacle, but it looks built to be jumped in some future year.
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Colleen Rutledge’s dog demonstrates exactly how narrow is 15F, the final element of the complex.
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Fence 16: Open Oxer
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Fence 17: The Fair Hill Flyer. An open corner with a ditch in front, reminiscent of the Vicarage Vee at Badminton (England).
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Fence 18ABC: Roller Coaster and Fair Hill International Drop, a nod to Rebecca Farm (Mont.), where Ian Stark also designs the course and incorporates a rollercoaster.

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18BC option: Five-star riders will only jump these if they take the long route.
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18BC: Riders better hold on tight if they opt to take the direct route down this big drop.
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Seriously, this drop is huge.
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Fences 19 and 20: Camden Yard Houses. These cabins are numbered separately, but if you are a five-star rider, there’s a direct line in there!
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Fence 21: MRA GTA Step Table
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Fence 22AB: Slab Table to Oak Top Corner
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The corner out.
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Fence 23: The Shelter, one of the smaller fences on course before a long gallop.
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Fence 24: The Groundhog Garden Gate
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Fence 25AB: Owl Corners. There’s a pair of these artistic brush corners, one left-handed and one right-handed, for the riders to negotiate.
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Fence 26: Rolltop
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Fence 27AB: The Brown Advisory Oriole Water, the last water complex.
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Fence 28: Phew, there’s the finish!

Get a bird’s eye view of the course via Fair Hill’s cross-country app.

Want more from the Maryland 5 Star? Follow the Chronicle’s online coverage here. You can get loads more news, analysis and photos in the Nov. 8 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine. What are you missing if you don’t subscribe?

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