“We’ve got a proper five, like six, star, so I’m absolutely pooping my panties.” That was the Piggy March (GBR) assessment of the CCI5* cross-country course at the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory.
March is riding Brookfield Cavalier Cruise in his first five-star in the event. “It’s a brilliant first-time five-star,” she said. “It’s just big and bold and attacking.”
The course consists of 28 numbered obstacles with 45 jumping efforts on the CCI5* cross-country course. It includes 12 combinations, with the first coming at Fence 3AB, a water obstacle, and the last at fence 27AB. Six combinations include two jumping efforts. Four combinations include three jumping efforts. And Two combinations include four jumping efforts. The official length is at 6365 meters. The optimum time is 11 minutes, 10 seconds.
Tightening the Cross-Country Time Allowed
It’s Ian Stark’s third year designing the track for the five-star event, which debuted in 2020. For the last two years, riders said they thought the time allowed was too generous and too many horses went within the time allowed. “This year, my attitude is ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ so I’ve slowed them down, I hope,” said Stark, who hails from Great Britain. I think [British Olympic eventer] Lucinda Green said she thought last year was fantastic. This year, it’s fantastic with knobs on.”
Stark said various people have come to him over the last two years and said the time should be unobtainable. “I don’t agree with that. I think if a time is unobtainable, horses are under pressure permanently,” he said. “So I think it’s got to be obtainable. Having said that, I’d be quite happy if nobody gets the time allowed on Saturday. I’d like them to get around and be safe but a few time faults for the lot wouldn’t do them any harm.”
“Never Seen Anything Like That”
“I’m really excited to have a go at this crazy cross-country,” said Hannah Sue Hollberg (USA), who is riding Capitol H I M in the five-star. “That one jump after the crab water, I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’m not really sure what’s gonna happen there. I just gotta get to the other side somehow. The waterfall jump (Fence 9) kind of took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to see that on this course.
“And the bounce with the crab (Fence 21ABC) is weird,” she continued. “That out of that combination is really gonna be hard. I mean the whole thing is gonna be a bit jarring. He obviously doesn’t want people to make the time this year, which, I don’t think they will.”
Keep scrolling for a course map and photos of each of the fences riders will be facing in the CCI5* course.
CCI5* cross-country takes place on Saturday, October 21st at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Thanks to Mane ‘n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2023 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!