Costa Rica dressage couple aiming for 2020 Olympics

Christer Egerstrom and Bello Oriente.
Christer Egerstrom and Bello Oriente.

A dressage riding husband and wife from Costa Rica have their sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and are working their way to that goal with some encouraging US results.

Christer Egerstrom and Bello Oriente won the FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle with a score of 71.708% at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the weekend, the first time a rider from Costa Rica has won there this season.

Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo (ESP) and Elevado finished in second with 69.792%, while Egerstrom’s wife, Michelle Batalla, also representing Costa Rica, finished third with 64.792% aboard Hendrix.

Egerstrom and Bello Oriente performed a lovely and accurate test to cap their week-long campaign in Small Tour competition at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Bello Oriente, a 2004 Oldenburg gelding (Belissimo M x Maradonna) owned by Egerstrom, is beginning to show consistent strength in expression and self-carriage, which is a main focus for Egerstrom as he will look to move the gelding to Large Tour competition next season.

“I actually rode exactly to the music, which is always a good thing,” said Egerstrom. “I was quite happy with that, and he was very energetic. I bought him in Mexico as a three-year-old and have had him ever since.”

“He’s a good horse; I really like him. I think right now since we have a little bit of time with Rio out of the question, my idea would be to prepare him to try to head to Tokyo, Japan, for the 2020 Olympics. We have a very generous new sponsor, Denise Garnier, and she’s been incredibly supportive,” Egerstrom said.

Egerstrom and Batalla have big plans to secure a spot for the small nation of Costa Rica in dressage at the next Olympic Games.

“The idea is to try to get Costa Rica to the Olympics for Tokyo between to the two of us. That’s the objective. We have a little bit of time, and I think maybe next season we’ll come out at the Grand Prix level here,” he said.

Egerstrom is building a strong string of horses he could take as possible contenders, and Bello Oriente is improving with experience in the ring. For Egerstrom, competing at AGDF has given both the necessary tools to feel secure in a move to Large Tour next season.

“I have another candidate that could also do the Grand Prix, so between the two of them I’m very hopeful. We’ll do the next few CDIs here because you have to get down the centerline and experience it. That’s the only way that you can see what you need to do. It’s about getting the experience and that’s what we’re here for,” Egerstrom said

Bello Oriente, a flashy bay gelding, seems to have all of the makings of a talented Grand Prix prospect for Egerstrom as his natural balance has been a major influence in his training progression over the past year.

“Actually he has four great gaits and the trot, as his self-carriage continues to get better, is pretty spectacular. It’s getting much better, but the canter is good in and of itself. It’s there for the Grand Prix right now, but I don’t want to rush him into it. He’s doing everything, but I’m going to take my time and get it there correctly,” he said.

Christer Egerstrom and Bello Oriente in their presentation ceremony with judge Isabelle Judet, Birgit Grafe of Engel & Völkers, and Cora Causemann of AGDF.
Christer Egerstrom and Bello Oriente in their presentation ceremony with judge Isabelle Judet, Birgit Grafe of Engel & Völkers, and Cora Causemann of AGDF.

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