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Ann Romney's horse Rafalca has 'slim' chance at Olympic medal

August 04, 2012|By Robin Abcarian

Never mind the tight presidential race. It was always going to be a long-shot for this Romney. Rafalca, the 15-year-old mare co-owned by Ann Romney, was never expected to be a top finisher at the 2012 Summer Games in London.

“Medal hopes for the U.S. are slim,” said Kenneth Braddick, who covers Olympic equestrian events for Dressage News. “Gold and silver will be fought out between Great Britain and Germany, with the Netherlands, Denmark and USA, in that order, tussling for bronze.” 

Great Britain’s first-place standing has been the surprise of the competition; Germany has dominated Olympics dressage since 1984. Many top-notch dressage horses, or “warmbloods,” are bred in Germany. Rafalca, in fact, is a naturalized American, having been purchased by Ann Romney in Germany six years ago.

After the first of three dressage events, Braddick said, the U.S. team was ranked fifth of 10 teams. The top seven, he added, will advance to the next competition, the Grand Prix Special, on Tuesday. Braddick said Ralfaca and Ebeling will be among three U.S. pairs to compete in that event.

If they do well enough, they will compete Thursday for individual medals in the third and final dressage category, the grand prix freestyle event — a crowd favorite because it pairs music with the dance-like moves of the horse and rider, who have more creative freedom than in the other two events.

(The intricacies of dressage are unfamiliar to most sports fans, so if you want to know more, check out this nicely executed New York magazine Olympic explainer

On Thursday, after watching Rafalca and Ebeling, who is one of Romney’s personal trainers, the wife of GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney pronounced herself “thrilled to death” with their performance. 

Ann Romney is expected to stay in London as long as Rafalca is in the competition, though during the weekend lull, she planned to visit relatives in her ancestral homeland of Wales. The natives are understandably excited.

According to a breathless report at Wales Online, Romney is expected to visit an 850-year-old pub called Old House in Llangynwyd for an interview with NBC, which, according to the site, has basically taken over the joint.

“This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to us,” said Old House “landlord” Richard Stephens-David in an interview with Wales Online.

The story charmingly recapitulated the story of Ann Romney’s Welsh roots:

“Mrs. Romney, who could have her feet under the table in the White House in January if her husband pips Barack Obama to the US top job later this year, is the granddaughter of David Davies, a coal miner, of Kings Terrace, Nantyffyllon, who emigrated to America in the 1920s. Mr Davies, who worked at the Coegnant Colliery, moved to Detroit in 1929 to work in the car industry and was soon joined by his wife, Annie, and his son, Edward. Edward lived the American dream, going to college, founding a business and working on the Nasa space programme. His daughter Ann is now on the verge of becoming the First Lady.”

robin.abcarian@latimes.com

twitter.com/robinabcarian

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