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2020’s last remaining five-star hopes to run as another falls victim to virus

The date for the world’s newest CCI5* has pushed back by a year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in the US had been planned for October 2020, but will now make its debut from 14 to 17 October 2021.

The postponement means Pau is the last remaining CCI5* to possibly go ahead this year, following the cancellation of Badminton, Burghley, Luhmullen, Kentucky and Adelaide. Organisers for the French event have said the team is going to “spare no effort and do everything possible” for Pau to go ahead from 21 to 25 October, while respecting any necessary health requirements.

A joint statement from organisers of the US event said the consensus was made that “not being able to guarantee the health and safety of everyone and producing the event in a limited capacity was not favourable for the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill’s inaugural year”.

Fair Hill organising committee president Jeff Newman added it was a “very difficult decision” and they are all very disappointed.

“The Fair Hill organising committee was created and tasked to plan and produce the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill as a world-class, international sporting event that includes an abundance of fan offerings drawing spectators from around the world to Cecil County and the surrounding region,” said Mr Newman.

“From the start of the pandemic until now, like many sports and entertainment properties, we’ve fully vetted out different scenarios ranging from a scaled-back event with some fans, a competition-only event without spectators, or postponing the event to 2021.

“Ultimately, we felt that the uncertainties and risks that will remain throughout the year are too great to overcome.

“As a result, with the support of our sponsors and key constituents, postponing the inaugural event to 2021 best enables us to achieve our original goals and set the foundation for a tradition that will continue for many years.”

The event is to be the seventh global five-star event and the second in the United States. Pau, France, is the sole remaining top-level event planning to go ahead in 2020, with coronavirus resulting in the cancellation of the remaining six.

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“The great state of Maryland remains a beacon for world-class events,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

“We’re looking forward to hosting this international equestrian event in 2021 at Fair Hill’s newly designed special event zone, while keeping public health and safety at the forefront of our planning. Maryland has deep roots in the equine industry and the Maryland 5 Star will mark a new era for the sport of eventing in our state.”

The event site features new dressage and showjumping arenas, build inside of the racecourse, and a cross-country course designed by Ian Stark.

The FEI, US Equestrian and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) have confirmed the new dates for 2021.

“We recognise the difficulty of the decision to cancel the 2020 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill considering the excitement and positive momentum building towards the inaugural event in October. We look forward to working with the organising committee to support a successful event in 2021,” said Bill Moroney, chief executive of US Equestrian. “The 2020 USEF CCI3*-L National Championship will be reallocated to a new venue and details will be announced in the coming weeks.”

USEA chief executive Rob Burk added the organisation “completely supports” the decision.

“We will look forward to the five star occurring in the Fall of 2021 for the first time in the US,” he said.

“Earlier this year I was lucky to see many of the improvements made to the park and all of those involved should be incredibly proud of the direction that the facility is headed.

“This will be an event we can all be proud of that will stand amongst the best in the world.”

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