A seventh four-star three-day event could be introduced to the international calendar, after the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) invited bids from venues.
USEF confirmed that five sites had submitted applications, but said that in the interest of privacy they would not yet be disclosing details of the venues.
The news comes as the FEI revealed this week that the cross-country element at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) would be downgraded from a four-star to a three-star standard — meaning no championships will now run under a full four-star format.
The world’s six remaining four-star events are at Badminton, Burghley, Adelaide (Australia), Lexington (US), Pau (France) and Luhmühlen (Germany).
Joanie Morris, USEF managing director of eventing, said: “The process was started earlier this year and before any discussions around the WEG format. The process was started to meet an identified need and opportunity to have a second four-star in the US and an additional four-star outside Europe.
“USEF asked organisers with three-star experience, or about to have three-star experience, to submit bids against a tender document if they were interested in hosting a four-star.”
A task force has been formed to consider the bids in line with USEF’s “major events strategy”. Each venue has been visited by a member of the task force, who will be “meeting before Christmas to map out the next stage of the process”.
The federation has said that the first edition of the new four-star is expected to take place in autumn 2018 or 2019.
“If it’s best to wait until 2019, that’s what we’ll do. The World Equestrian Games take place 10-23 September 2018, later than originally scheduled, so the important thing will be having a four-star with longevity as opposed to one that’s rushed through,” a spokesman said.
The state-owned Fair Hill park in Maryland, which currently runs a CCI3* in October, confirmed on its Facebook page this week it was one of the venues which had submitted a bid.
“We have been waiting and waiting to be able to tell you this news! Fair Hill International has applied to host a four-star. Regardless of the outcome of that proposal, we’re enthusiastic about the proposed updates to existing infrastructure,” read a statement.
“Improvements at the Fairgrounds will benefit our competitors as well as horse enthusiasts across Maryland. We’ll pass on more news as we hear it — we don’t expect an answer about the four-star proposal until 2017.”
The impressive Tryon complex in North Carolina — which stepped in to host the 2018 WEG — is thought to be among the other bidders.
Other venues reported as likely candidates include Great Meadow in Virginia, which hosts the three-star Land Rover Great Meadow International in July, and the Ocala Jockey Club in Florida.
Ms Morris added that as well as looking for a new four-star venue, the US is also planning to introduce an “exciting” three-star series in the near future.
“The U.S. provides unique opportunities for eventing athletes with events able to take place all year around,” she said.
“With WEG taking place in Tryon in 2018, we look forward to welcoming eventing athletes from around the world.”