A Warm Welcome: Filip De Wandel Wins in Traverse City

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.

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

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.”

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

Beat Mändli and Vic Des Cerisiers. ©Andrew Ryback

“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.”

The second chance paid off and now De Wandel and Manhattan will rest for theStaller CSI3* Grand Prix, with only about 24 hours in between the two classes.

Kelli Cruciotti VanderVeen and Gideon. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

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


Sabrina Hall and Aviatrix. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

A Perfect Match: Sabrina Hall and Aviatrix Land Adult Amateur Hunter Championship 

Longtime Traverse City competitor Sabrina Hall ended on a high note Saturday as she exited the GGT Footing ring a hack winner and champion of the Adult Amateur Hunter division, sponsored by Audra Jackson, Exit Northern Shores Realty. Her victory was earned aboard Aviatrix, owned by the Avantaventure Group.

The new pair, just established in May of 2022, rode to three blue ribbons to capture the division championship. “It’s a different ride than anything I’ve ever ridden before, and she’s super fun,” commented Hall on the 10-year-old Hanoverian mare by Pablo. “I have her for the rest of the summer. We’re doing the [Adult Amateurs] and equitation this year and hoping to go to indoors in the fall.”

Though they don’t have miles of experience together, with TCHS Spring II being the pair’s first show together, Hall knows she has a dependable partner in Aviatrix. “She’s super fun and down for anything,” she continued. “She’s super confident, and she has got the cutest little jump. You just know she’s going to do it. She’s nice on the ground and loves pets and treats.”

Sabrina Hall and Aviatrix. ©Andrew Ryback Photography

The Holly, MI, native has been attending Traverse City Horse Shows since her days in the Pony Hunters. “It has been amazing,” Hall remarked on the property’s transformation. “They built a bunch of new rings, and the footing has improved a lot. I love how they put the hunters down here. It feels like we’re in our own world and the jumpers are in their own world, and it’s super fun to go watch the [Turtle Creek Casino & Resort International] ring. It’s my favorite place to show.”

The young amateur recently graduated with a psychology degree from Miami University in Ohio and plans to attend graduate school for clinical psychology, all while continuing to ride and gain more experience.

Reserve championship honors in the Adult Amateur Hunter division, sponsored by Audra Jackson, Exit Northern Shores Realty, went to McClain Suelthaus and Kavalier G.