Ann Romney Happy with “Elegant, Consistent, Fabulous” Olympic Performance by Rafalca and Jan Ebeling
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LONDON, Aug. 2–Ann Romney, wife of U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was happy with the “elegant, consistent, fabulous” performance by the mare, Rafalca, of which she is a part-owner and came to London to watch compete for the United States team in the Olympic dressage competition
The partnership of Jan, Rafalca and the three women owners, Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Amy Ebeling, is celebrated around the world as bringing more attention to the sport than in the entire 100 years it has been in the Olympics.
The ownership trio sat in the stands among the 23,000 spectators who ignored occasional heavy rain to watch the opening day of the dressage competition that will be the finale of equestrian sports at these Games with the dressage musical freestyle on Aug. 9.
Obviously moved by the first Olympic appearance for Rafalca and rider Jan Ebeling who helped Ann overcome crippling affects of multiple schlerosis with therapeutic riding lessons, the competition in London’s Greenwich Park, the oldest royal park at 600 years, was the culmination of a dream.
Jan, 53, a German migrant who has lived in the U.S.more tha half his lietime and is based in Moorpark, California, with his wife, Amy, and soccer-playing son, Ben, said he was “really happy” with the ride that scored 70.423 per cent that put them midway in the first day’s standings of the two days of Grand Prix.
The score did, however, get the three-member team off to a good start with Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida, and Calecto V and Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, and Ravel scheduled to compete Friday.
Barring the unknown, the U.S. is on track to be among the seven nations whose teams move on to the Grand Prix Special next Tuesday that will decide the medals. Great Britain and Germany are locked in a struggle for gold and silver with Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S. contending for bronze.
Because of media attention, the U.S. dressage team has maintained a low profile since moving to England early in July to prepare for the Olympics.
“There certainly was a lot of media attention going on,” Jan said. “But in the end I think it’s good for the sport and I don’t really get distracted. I have a pretty good way of focusing.”
This was Jan’s first experience as an Olympian though he represented the United States at the Pan American Games in 2003 where the team won gold.
Rafalca is a 15-year-old Oldenbrg mare (Argentinius x Raton x Rubinstein) that Jan has competed in three World Cup Finals, in Las Vegas in 2009, Leipzig, Germany in 2011 and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, last April.