Tokyo Olympians Tim and Jonelle Price are among a star-studded line-up heading to the United States next week for an inaugural Maryland 5* at Fair Hill.

It is an impressive start list for the event and includes the entire US Olympic team from Tokyo alongside Olympians from Australia, Canada and Great Britain. The field includes the likes of world no.1 Oliver Townend (GBR), Boyd Martin (USA), Bruce Davidson Jr (USA), Phillip Dutton (USA), Clayton Fredericks (AUS), Zara Tindall (GBR), Astier Nicolas (FRA), Harry Meade (GBR), Maxime Livio (FRA), Jessica Phoenix (CAN), and Aachen winner William Coleman (USA).

With $US100,000 up for grabs for the winner, and a distinct lack of 5* events this season, expect the competition to be fierce.

World no.2 Tim Price is entered aboard 15-year-old Xavier Faer who was second this year at the Kentucky 5* and third at the same event in 2019. The gelding was bred by Trisha Rickards and is by Catherston Liberator out of Faerie Dazzler, who is by Catherton Dazzler.

Tim PRICE (NZL) riding XAVIER FAER during the cross country phase at the Les Étoiles de Pau held at Domaine de Sers just outside Pau in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region of France between 21-25 October 2020

Tim and Jonelle are looking forward to heading into “unknown territory” for the new event. “I haven’t even been there for any competition that they have been holding there for quite a few years I believe, so it will be totally unknown to us,” said Tim. “From what we hear it is going to be beautiful, glitzy and with a quite serious cross country. We are very excited there is another 5* on the calendar and that we get to go to the inaugural one and have a go with some nice horses.”

The horses left on Wednesday (Oct 6) with Tim and Jonelle following them the week after.

Jonelle, the world no.7 ranked eventer, will start her 2018 Badminton winner Classic Moet. The black mare has an impressive record at top level, with a third at Burghley (2016), fourth at the FEI World Equestrian Games (2014), fifth at Burghley (2015), seventh at Kentucky (2021) and 10th at Badminton (2016). She has twice represented New Zealand at WEG.
Classic Moet – known as Molly to her mates – was bred by Elaine Hepworth and is by Classic, out of Gamston Bubbles, who is by Bohemond.

NZL-Jonelle Price rides Classic Moet during the Cross Country for the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship. Interim-12th. 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Saturday 15 September. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

US-based Joe Meyer lines up on his 13-year-old grey gelding Johnny Royal whose only other 5* start was Kentucky this year. The New Zealand thoroughbred was bred by JR Wheeler and is by His Royal Highness, out of Chivaney, who is by Tights. He has spent his entire international eventing career with Joe. Joe says he is really looking forward to the new 5*. “We have not seen the new venue but it is reported that a lot of work and improvements have been done,” he says. “The course runs over a different part of the ground from where the old 4* was.”

As well as Johnny Royal in the 5* Joe will also start Harbin in the 3*-L. “Both horses have had good runs lately,” he says. “We are just putting the last bits of fitness work and tuning on dressage and showjumping. The only drag is the 16-hour drive from Florida but it’s not the end of the world though and will give me time to learn my dressage tests!”

The cross country has been designed by Ian Stark (GBR) with Ken Krome tasked with the showjumping. The $US300,000 prize purse for the 5* class includes $US100,000 for the winner.

ESNZ high performance eventing manager Graeme Thom says they are all looking forward to the new event. “Ian Stark’s cross country course will no doubt be very challenging,” he says. “Having ridden at the 4* (at this venue) number of times, I know the ground is always dependable and it is a beautifully scenic event at this time of autumn. Xavier Faer and Classic Moet who are two of Trisha Rickards 5* winners should both be very suited to this event.”

The first horse inspection is on Wednesday (October 13) followed by two days of dressage, the cross country on Saturday and the second horse inspection and showjumping on Sunday. The new 5* means the US now hosts two of the seven held worldwide, most of which have been cancelled this season.

The venue has a rich equestrian history. In 1925 William duPont Jr, a banker and businessman who was prominent in the racing industry, started accumulating land on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border that would be both a nature preserve and a place for his two favourite pastimes – racing and foxhunting.He designed a spectacular steeplechase course, giving it years to grow before putting it to use in 1934. He also built bridges, tunnels and a 27-kilometre super fence made of chain link to ensure his hounds’ safety during foxhunting. After duPont’s death in 1965, the state of Maryland purchased their 2279-hectare portion of the estate.

In 1989 organisers of the Chesterland Three Day event were looking for a new site for their CCI3* and so began the move to eventing. The venue was an instant success. Brit Michael Tucker designed the early cross country courses before passing the reins to Derek di Grazia in 1999. In 2003 Fair Hill International hosted the Pan American Eventing Championships, with other top national events to follow.

Xavier Faer – owned by Trisha Rickards, Nigella Hall and Tim Price
Classic Moet – owned by Trisha Rickards, Jacky Green and Jonelle Price
Johnny Royal – owned by the Team Johnny Syndicate

WHAT: Maryland 5 Star
WHERE: Fair Hill Special Event Zone, Elkton, Maryland, United States
WHEN: October 14-17, 2021
FACEBOOK: Maryland 5 Star (livestream information)

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison

7th October 2021