Filip de Wandel & Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof Fly the Highest in $50,000 Vita Flex Grand Prix

Wellington, Florida – December 19, 2021 – Two grand prix classes enhanced the schedule of the ESP Holiday show at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), with big winners of the week earning blue ribbons in the $50,000 Vita Flex Grand Prix and $25,000 Resilient Fitness Grand Prix. In the first grand prix of the weekend, Ryan Genn (USA) and VDL Gerinus T, owned by Wilhelm Genn, came out on top after two clear rounds over tracks designed by Mauricio Garcia Ballesteros (PUR) in the $25,000 Resilient Fitness Grand Prix. The finale of the show, the $50,000 Vita Flex Grand Prix victory went to Filip de Wandel (BEL) on Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof.

Manhattan is a nine-year-old by Emerald Van t Ruytershof and Kashmir Van’t Schuttershof. He arrived in the United States in June, so I showed him a little bit this summer and he did well in some national grand prix classes. I gave him a little bit of a break in September and I started showing him again in November to get him ready for the season,” De Wandel remarked. “I’m hoping to compete him in some 3* classes this winter season. I’m very happy to win today. He was already second two weeks ago, so I’m pleased to have success with this horse already.”

Sunday’s $50,000 Vita Flex Grand Prix showcased efforts from 30 entries representing 12 nations, but only three were able to finish the first round without any faults to advance to the jump-off. The first to go in the jump-off as the initial pathfinders from the first round, Ava de Caster (USA) and Carlotta 289, owned by Bay Winds Equestrian LLC, tackled the abridged track and looked to set a tough-to-beat standard, but lowered the final fence to incur four faults. Following suit, Wilhelm Genn (GER) tried to add another Genn name to the top of the grand prix standings after his son’s wn on Friday, but he and Eduardo Leon’s Bugatti also dropped a fence to open the door for De Wandel to take over the lead as the last to ride.

Filip de Wandel (BEL) & Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof 

“I was a little bit surprised at how few clears there were. I thought Friday’s course was more difficult and you had to be more careful. Today’s course I thought was nice, maybe a little bigger than Friday’s, but I thought there would be more clear than three,” De Wandel noted. “I’m not always the fastest rider in the jump-off so today really worked out for me, though!”

Knowing he only needed a clear ride in the jump-off to win the top prize, De Wandel (BEL) navigated Manhattan Van’t Leeuwerikenhof to a conservative fault-free ride in 46.06 seconds, capturing the lion’s share of the prize money as the only double-clear duo of the class. Genn (GER) and Bugatti finished in second place with a four-fault time of 41.69 seconds, and De Caster and Carlotta 289 were awarded third place with a slightly slower four-fault trip in 42.46 seconds.

Final Results –  $50,000 Vita Flex Grand Prix

1) Filip de Wandel (BEL) & Manhattan Van’t – 0 / 0 – 46.061

2) Wilhelm Genn (GER) & Bugatti – 0 / 4 – 41.697

3) Ava de Caster (USA) & Carlotta 289 – 0 / 4 –  42.466

Source: Press Release ESP – Equestrian Sport Production

Photos: © Anne Gittins Photography