A Warm Welcome: Filip De Wandel Wins in Traverse City 

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Filip De Wandel and Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Edited Press Release

There’s a new name in Traverse City. Belgium’s Filip De Wandel arrived and bested a (bare) foot race to the finish with Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof in Saturday’s $37,000 CSI3* Welcome Stake during week two of Traverse City Spring, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel.

Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros (PUR) designed the course for the 23 international combinations, 12 of which proceeded to the jump-off for top honors and prize money. The pace in the jump-off accelerated with each pair. Friday’s winners Katie Dinan (USA) and Athos D’Elle appeared tough to beat, speeding to a jump-off time of 35.88 seconds. Seeking the win that Dinan denied her Friday, Kelli Cruciotti VanderVeen (USA) guided 8-year-old Gideon, owned by Serenity Farm, to a new leading time, omitting strides and crossing the timers in 35.77 seconds.

With very little wiggle room left, De Wandel chose a curated path across the short track. While the pace was not an all-out gallop, his precision and efficient turns sealed the deal and shaved fractions of a second off the leading time to finish in 35.15 seconds. The only challenger of the two entries to follow was Beat Mändli’s (SUI) second mount, Vic Des Cerisiers, owned by Grant Road Partners LLC, but fell just short in 35.20 seconds, placing second with Cruciotti VanderVeen in third.

“He’s a very careful but solid horse,” De Wandel remarked on his partner since June 2021, the 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Emerald x Kashmir Van Schuttershof), owned by Five Way Farm LLC. “We go in the ring and I don’t have to worry about spooking or anything. He won a class a few weeks ago, so I think I’ve started to know and trust him a little bit better in the jump-off.”

Filip De Wandel and Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

Aside from being the winner, Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof had another distinct feature that set him apart from the field: He competes barefoot.

“At the moment, all my horses are barefoot,” said De Wandel. “This horse has always been barefoot, so I don’t even know how he feels with shoes. He’s very solid on his feet. They wear their feet more naturally without the interruption of blacksmiths. Blacksmiths always try to do well, of course, but sometimes if their feet grow a little different from the shoeing. Manhattan’s front feet are a little different, so he wears them down how he wants and keeps up with them.”

Entering Saturday’s Welcome Stake wasn’t originally part of Manhattan’s plan, nor was jumping off after he jumped clear. But with a rail down in Friday’s Two Phase, the Belgian professional based out of Mechanicsburg, PA, wanted a bit more experience under their belt prior to Sunday’s $138,600 Staller CSI3* Grand Prix. “I have to say he jumped a very good round today,” De Wandel continued. “With 12 in the jump-off, I wasn’t even sure I was going to do it because I had another horse, but I had four faults with him in the jump-off, so I took my second chance.”

Only here for two weeks during the Spring Series at TCHS, De Wandel and Eliza Lehrman of Five Way Farm are already racking up top international results, with Lehrman in the top four in Friday’s Two Phase. “We decided to come here for two weeks; we had heard good things about it,” De Wandel commented on their summer horse show plan. “We hadn’t been here for a few years, and we’d been hearing more and more good things. The ring looks beautiful and like an international ring, which gives a good feeling.”

Final Results: $37,000 CSI3* Welcome Stake

  • 1. MANHATTAN VAN’T LEEUWERIKENHOF: 2012 BWP gelding by Emerald x Kashmir Van Schuttershof
    FILIP DE WANDEL (BEL), Five Way Farm LLC: 0/0/35.15
  • 2. VIC DES CERISIERS: 2009 SF gelding by Olympic D’Anguerny x Desir Du Chateau
    BEAT MÄNDLI (SUI), Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/35.20
  • 3. GIDEON: 2014 ZANG gelding by Super Trooper De Ness x Corland
    KELLI CRUCIOTTI VANDERVEEN (USA), Serenity Farm: 0/0/35.77
  • 4. ATHOS D’ELLE: 2010 SF stallion by Apache D’Adriers x Papillon Rouge
    KATIE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/35.88
  • 5. KIRSCHWASSER SCF: 2010 BWP gelding by Amaretto D’Arco x Nabab De Reve
    FREDDIE VAZQUEZ (PUR), Freddie Vazquez: 0/0/36.77
  • 6. CHARTRAINE PRE NOIR: 2012 SF mare by Kannan
    BEAT MÄNDLI (SUI), Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/36.99
  • 7. TACHINI Z: 2009 ZANG gelding by Toulon x Burggraaf NV
    MICHAEL MORRISSEY (USA), MD Stables: 0/0/38.23
  • 8. NADAL VD WATERINGHOEVE: 2013 BWP gelding by Bisquet Balou VD Mispelaere x Breemeersen Adorado
    JONATHAN CORRIGAN (IRL), Maya Nayyar, LLC: 0/0/38.32
  • 9. SUPER CHILLED: 2008 ISH gelding by Gelvin Clover
    JONATHAN CORRIGAN (IRL), Debra Wycoff: 0/0/44.47
  • 10. FANTASY BB: 2010 KWPN mare by Cardento x Labor’s VDL Indorado
    JONATHAN MCCREA (USA), Windsor Show Stables: 0/4/36.00
  • 11. NANKING VD DONKHOEVE: 2013 BWP stallion by Houston x Cassini I
    FILIP DE WANDEL (BEL), Five Way Farm LLC: 0/4/38.58
  • 12. JACKOFHEARTS: 2012 DWB gelding by Toulon x Baloubet Du Rouet
    MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/23/51.17