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. Al-NY,NY

    Fair is Fair

    This one should be good for some of the most disgusting hate-filled comments you've ever seen... may even compete with a Palin article on the Hate-O-Meter.
    -------------------

    and the Michelle Obama hate-o-meter by the tightie righties...yes? And by the way, thankfully I don't have MS but it must be nice to be rich enough to buy a horse to use as therapy. What do the poor slobs use for therapy...a hobby horse?

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

    "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 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I know how to fix the economy because I'm an experienced and successful entrepreneur and job creator. I own 15 thoroughbred horses and I employ 10 hired hands per horse. 15×10 = 150 employees. I have 7 mansions across the US and I employ 20 maids and butlers per mansion. 7×20 = 140 employees. I have 4 car elevators and employ 5 technicians to service them. 5×4 = 20 employees. I have 2 yatchs and I employ 5 service crew apiece. 5×2 +10 employees. I have 2 jet skiiis and 2 service crew. 2×2 = 4 employees. I have 1 private jet and 45 crew. 45×1 =45 employees. I have 6 wineries and employ 200 workers per wineries. 200×6 = 1,200 employees. I have...Elitist!

    August 2, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    American tax payers are subsidizing Romney's tax write offs for this every expensive horse.

    August 2, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Larry L

    Did you know that "Rafalca" is a word from the Mormon version of the Bible? Loosely translated it means "dancing gay pony".

    August 2, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. MDNA = MaDge Not Applicable!

    I am in a quandary, having a few guests in for some "dressage", what do "you people" serve as refreshments, Mimosas or Apple martinis?

    The event is at noon, so my problem is that too late for Mimosas or too early for Apple martinis?

    August 2, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. HenryB

    Elitist horse like elitist owner. Oh, wait ..... I thought only Democrats were elitists.

    August 2, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. Expat American

    What comes out of the business end of that million dollar horse is equivalent to the tax plan Romney has in store for the poor and middle class.

    August 2, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. ST

    This couple is totally hopeless. They are willing to show off their horse BUT not their Tax Returns. Release them now, now and stop playing with peoples capacity of thinking.

    August 2, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Pamela

    Of course, Mitt was watching! It's just that line was not scripted for the interview with Brian Williams so he did not know what to say. How difficult is that to answer? How many campaign meetings start early in the morning or perhaps he planned to be at a diner? Is he too busy trying to find a VP who will show more than 2 years of taxes? Remember, he has to do due diligence. No Sara Palin is out there; it is a bunch of surrogates who either dropped out of the race or were too timid to run against the Money Machine called Mitt. The lady in charge of the vetting may select herself as Dick Cheney did. Dick said he was the best person and awarded himself the prize, how unbiased. But then, the GOP is a strange bunch : fundamentalist, self-righteous, self serving and trying to get rid of their best assets like the Senators and Congress men who have either been defeated in primaries or who have simply walked away. How disconcerting that the Leader of the Party cannot state a simple truth: OF COURSE, I WILL BE WATCHING MY WIFE'S HORSE COMPETE! Is that such a big deal? How about real things that matter? How will Mitt deal with the day to day issues that really matter?

    August 2, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. sonny chapman

    What do Repubs. think that Karl Rove or Lee Atwater would do with this if it were a Dem. that owned Rafalca
    "competing" in this event called "Dressage",(Isn't that FRENCH ?)

    August 2, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Obamacare = Obama cares about the young, elderly, poor and disabled. Romneycare = "I don't care about the poor"! Repeal? Replace? With What?

    And to think some of "you people" cannot afford the $45 per hour riding fee to help with your child's MS therapy.

    Tsk, tsk.

    August 2, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. pkbkr

    Oh, to be rich and be able to buy a horse like this, no matter what the reason. I certainly sympathize with Mrs. Romney's MS; however, think what the money spent on this could do to help people without health insurance! Let them eat cake......or buy horses fit for the Olympics! Obama/Biden 2012

    August 2, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Henry – Educated people are called 'elitist' by the right wingnuts.

    August 2, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. ckcgye

    CNN, are you crazy? (Well, yes, actually you are.) Why in the world would you place an article about an Olympic horse in the political ticker? It appears that once again you are trying to make an issue where there is none, and stirring up people's political passions just to get people worked up about NOTHING. There are real issues and problems facing our nation, including polarization, but you just seem intent on making things worse. I'm sure that if CNN and other media outlets looked hard enough, they would find plenty of politicians on both sides of the fence with Olympics ties. What's the big deal? Also, what happened to leaving spouses and kids of politicians alone? Does that only apply to Obama and Clinton?

    August 2, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mitt Romney empowering the rich while the rest of us are forgotten is important. Worrying about what a candidates wife spends on clothes? I think we've all forgotten how to mind our own business
    -------------------------------------------------
    Agreed.
    I certainly do not begrudge them their wealth. He had a job where he got to screw people and profit from it. The American way some might say. He's been very savvy in taking advantage of tax codes, loopholes, and other "niceties" afforded to the very wealthy so that they can remain very wealthy, you can't blame the man for that truly. It is their money they can burn it, hoarde it, spend it,save it, and hide it anyway they see fit. Not my money , not my call. But please, because of said wealth (at least in THE ROMNEY'S case) they are genuinely, and probably unbeknownst to them, the most disconnected and arrogant pretenders to the White House. I don't know about the horse.
    The Obamas 2012. Because they are people who understand people.

    August 2, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. lvinusa

    Beatiful horse. GO USA!
    (I'm about as liberal as you can get but the Olympics are not the place for Politics)

    August 2, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. winky

    This is just sad and these 45,000 a year republicans just don't get it. I wouldn't want to be Rich just comfortable. Democrats are not jealous. We are just smart to know that this Romney family is out of touch with average family that works hard everyday to put food on the table while she prance around with a78,000 tax write off?

    August 2, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. rmtaks

    Ah the perfect opportunity to showcase the sophisticated man's mastery and control over the lowly beast. I also heard they can ride the horses pretty well.

    August 2, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. W.

    Now Sarah Palin will want to enter a horse named, "Dick." I'm off to purchase some Ramen Soup for the month; I guess that makes me an elitist.

    August 2, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. UDidntBuildThat

    Guess what? If u r not rich, then it is your fault. You did not take the risk. You did not get the education need to have a real job that pays a lot. U did not work hard. U sat there with your hands out and criticize the ones that did work hard, got the education, and took all the risks.
    So when Obama brings how rich Romney is just remember, Obama's kids attend private school, have expensive clothes, maids, nannies, chefs, etc., just like the Romenys.

    August 2, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. JDinHouston

    Mr "I saved the Olympics" can't even watch his own horse compete? Just like taxes and Bain, Romney once again hiding from reality.

    August 2, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Neighbor Bob

    Mitt to America: "My horse has better health care than you, and guess what, you are subsidizing it."

    August 2, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "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...)'
    -------------------------------------------------
    Additionally, do they get to write off all the horse's expense as unreimbursed medical expenses seeing how Ann-Antoinette claims that it helps in the treatment of her MS?

    August 2, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    People are not jealous of Mitt Romney. They are simply appalled by the degree that is out of touch. People shake their heads when Mitt Romney stopped on a college campus last spring when the debate of the week was over student loans. He told the students "just borrow $10,000 from your mom and dad." Out of touch.

    The average student can pay $250,000 over four years for tuition, books, and living expenses. The average family does not have parents who just loan $10,000 to their kids, anyway. "Hey, Dad. Can I borrow ten thousand?" What would you tell your kid if they were to say that to you? I would tell them to go get a job.

    August 2, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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