Horserace turns (almost) literal in London
Jan Ebeling rides Rafalca in the Dressage Grand Prix at Greenwich Park in London
August 2nd, 2012
08:52 AM ET
2 years ago

Horserace turns (almost) literal in London

(CNN) – The political horserace turned into an actual horserace Thursday in London. Or at least a horse ballet.

Rafalca, the mare co-owned by Ann Romney, made her Olympics debut at Greenwich Park, competing in the individual Dressage Grand Prix event against a crowded field that included horses from at least seventeen other nations.

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Rafalca and her rider Jan Ebeling scored a 70.243 in the first round of competition, which put them in thirteenth place after one day of competition.

The next round takes place Friday.

Rafalca earned her spot on the U.S. Olympic team in June, when she placed third in the Olympic Grand Prix Special Test, held in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Dressage requires a combination of "the strength and agility of gymnastics with the elegance and beauty of ballet," according to the U.S. Equestrian Federation. The sport takes place in an arena and routines are judged on "accuracy of the transitions (changes of gait), obedience, suppleness of the horse, quality of the gaits, and the rider's use of aids."

Ann began riding horses when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, and has said the sport has helped lessen the symptoms of the inflammatory disease.

In an interview soon after Rafalca qualified for the London Games, Ann Romney said she was "excited, honestly, to be able to represent the United States."

"I have a horse that is going to be fighting for gold in London and I am very excited about that. Wow! It has been a dream of mine for a long, long time, ever since I was a little girl," Romney continued.

Romney said she did ride Rafalca herself, but the level of competition in London was beyond her abilities.

"I do ride this horse, but not in competition," Romney said. "People say, 'Well you can ride at that level,' and I say, "Well…" It's like being the country club pro in one place, and then going to Wimbledon. You don't understand how professional these riders are that are riding at this level. It's quite competitive."

Mitt Romney, however, said as the Olympics began last week that he would not watch Rafalca and Ebeling compete.

"I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on," Romney said on NBC. "She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event."

The Democratic National Committee briefly used video of the Romney's Olympic-bound horse to portray the candidate as "dancing around the issues," but later discontinued using Rafalca because it could be seen as offensive to the GOP candidate's wife.

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Filed under: Ann Romney • Olympics
soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. snowdogg

    How can anybody question badminton being a sport and this elitist contest gets a pass?

    August 2, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. don

    Good luck Mitt but all of my neighbors have horses entered too.

    August 2, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. Anne P

    Do I get to right off expenses for my horse? I show too. Hell no! How is this business? Having trained my own horse, I have little respect for people who just go buy the best and claim any kind of pride. Especially someone like Mittens who was handed his fortune. What a pandering slimeball this guy is.

    August 2, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Since the GOP is rooting for America to fail, we can expect to see them rooting against the Romney horse (and Rafalca, too).

    August 2, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. Jim, San Antonio

    Do you REALLY believe that Willard doesn't know what day the competition is on and won't be watching? LIAR!!!!

    August 2, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. RDM3

    I don't see what the big deal is. Everyone on my street has at lease one half a million dollar horse in their backyard. As a matter of fact as soon as I finish this 12 hr shift, I'm going to feed and groom mine. We had some 20lb lobsters flown in from Maine for her....she just loves them so much.

    August 2, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    slk

    If Rafalca should win gold..............would the IRS want some of this $$$$$$also ? Uh oh..................
    another record........? Gotta hide that.
    ---------------
    As a matter of fact, US athletes must pay income taxes on their medals.
    I suppose that "Rafalca, LLC" would have to pay some sort of income taxes, too.
    If not, then I know the tax system is broken. Humans pay taxes, but horses don't?

    August 2, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. Eli

    So many people here are so jeolous about a horse, while the country is going through the worst economic recovery in the country's history.

    August 2, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. just me

    This is disgusting. Is this what we want to be reduced to?...dancing horses???? We don't elect kings and queens. As americans We need to stop wasting our time with this.... I'm filthy rich and ..you poeple... junk...just total crap....

    August 2, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. Greg

    That horse costs American taxpayers $77,000 a year. Sad.

    August 2, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. Bill

    Hate burst your bubble Ann Romney, but it is not "your turn" (for the White House). The American people could give two hoots about "Dressage", let alone even know what it is.

    August 2, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. Todd in DC

    There are people in America desparate enough to EAT that horse. Seriously, what does Mittens have in common with the average voter, anyway? Most voters pay income tax, but then I guess we are just little people.

    August 2, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. RS, CA

    Love the Romneys, their earned success, love for America, and true class. I appreciate their willingness to give of themselves to make our country greater, despite the hatred, distortions, and jealousy of the Obama minions.

    Romney 2012

    August 2, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. LuckyRafalca

    If Romney wins (god forbid), I can assume Rafalca will be transported in Air Force One everywhere they will go, with the reason of being medicine needed by Ann.

    August 2, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Massachusetts is the Best

    I still say her husband prances better than her horse.

    August 2, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  16. Expat American

    After much effort and struggling, and pulling himself up on his furry paws, my chow puppy climbed almost an entire flight of stairs. I think that’s worth $77,000.00 come next April.

    August 2, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. terry

    Glad these "real" people will be able to understand average Americans.

    And, yes, her husband is a bit of a prancer, too!

    August 2, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Hey, Mittens got anymore of those 100K jobs at Bain for doing nothing? 'Call Me, Maybe?'

    I had an 80 inch plazma installed in my stables so all the horses could enjoy the Olympics.

    My private plane only seats 8, so we had to improvise.

    Hope all "you people" could at least install a 48" LCD in your stables, so all could cheer on Rafalca!

    August 2, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I look forward to Dressage becoming an inner city sport, replacing basketball and football.

    August 2, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    'Rafalca' is the Arab word for 'outsource.'

    August 2, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. JECD

    I'd like to know how he gets away with writing off $78,000 a year on this horse (and I can't write off a nickel on mine...)

    August 2, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    David in Fl asked:

    Let the trolling begin. I really hope all of the haters on this board grow up get wealthy and then be constantly bombarded with envy, jealousy, distrust and hatred because of it, so they can truly appreciate what they dish out... until that unlikely event, I can only shake my head and wonder who hurt these people
    ---------------------
    Who hurt them? People like Mitt Romney.

    What you fail to understand is that all of this envy, jealousy, and the other conservative talking points are just that. Talking points. People get offended when Mitt Romney sits in a coffee shop with constituents and claims that he is unemployed. People get offended when Mitt Romney accuses people of jealousy and envy, as if he's some sort of god that people look up to. People get offended when Mitt Romney *pretends* to understand average people, and tosses out the jealousy line when he fails.

    August 2, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Mr 1% the "VULTURE CAPITALIST BUSINESSMAN" will outsource all the poor, disabled, unemployed and elderly, to China and sell America to the highest bidder!

    Anyone know the tax rate for the deduction of 2 kittens that can do "high jump hurdles"?

    They just jumped onto the kitchen counter!!!

    August 2, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens writes more off on his pet horse than most people make in a year. KMA Mittens.

    August 2, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Sniffit

    CNN, delving deep into the abyss of non-issues.

    "I'd like to know how he gets away with writing off $78,000 a year on this horse (and I can't write off a nickel on mine...)'

    Just a guess, but he probably has it all neatly tucked under some business umbrella where he can write off the expenses of its upkeep and training.

    I mean, corporations are horses too, right?

    August 2, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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