“This class was right up Okina’s alley”
As always, the last class of the day never disappoints. In a CSI3* class against the clock, with jumps reaching 1.45m in height, the first attendees of the 2023 Brussels Stephex Masters witnessed a lightning-fast and exhilarating competition. Out of the participants, 9 riders cleared the course. It became clear that in order to clinch this victory, one had to be exceptionally quick and maintain perfect lines. And that’s precisely what our first big winner of 2023 demonstrated. Frederic Vernaet (Belgium), riding Okina van de Bien (Toulon x Blue Boy V. Berkenbroeck), showcased a flawless performance on the immaculate green grass of the Grand Place arena. He finished a full second ahead of runner-up Julien Gonin (France | Estrella de La Batia – Diamant de Semilly x Lando) and had a 2.5-second lead over third-place Skye Morssinkhof (Belgium | G-Vingino-Blue – VDL Zirocco Blue x Orame).
For Frederic, the Brussels Stephex Masters couldn’t have started on a brighter note: “Upon seeing the course, I felt confident about a potential win. Courses like these are right up Okina’s alley. She’s inherently swift and also a very careful horse. Despite taking some risks around the corners, she seemed to approach every jump with utmost ease today!” Frederic has been a regular at the Brussels Stephex Masters: “I anticipate another stellar week. This year, I’ve brought along five horses, two young horses and three set to compete in the 3* classes. I’ve attended every edition of the Stephex Masters thus far, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Every year, even before I arrive on the first day, I just know that the organizers have elevated the event even further. With each passing year, it becomes grander and more beautiful. In 2022, we were introduced to the splendid new grass arenas that add a touch of magic to the event. This year we were treated to expanded warm-up areas and even more impressive event grounds. Taking a win here feels nothing short of incredible.”