The Romneys' dressage horse, Rafalca is set to take to the field in the Olympics, and with the fancy dancing horse comes even more controversy for the GOP Presidential presumptive nominee, who is already struggling with his rich-guy image.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Rafalca, the 15-year-old Oldenberg mare partially owned by the Romneys, helped them get a $77,000 tax credit in 2010. The dressage horse is reportedly worth $100,000, allowing for even more criticism for the GOP hopeful, who has yet to release his tax returns before 2010.
The stunningly elegant mare will compete for the U.S. dressage team in the London Olympics, ridden by Jan Ebeling, Ann Romney's riding teacher, who co-owns the horse with the Romneys. The revelation that the former Massachusetts governor has decided to plunge into a blue-blooded sport often associated with kings, has caused Mitt Romney to be an even bigger source for comedian jokes, as well as political criticism. Comedian Stephen Colbert joked that:
"The image of Romney as a privileged princeling ends today - because now Romney is just your average blue-collar fan of dressage."
"The Romneys' dancing Olympic horse gets better health care than many Americans, and Mitt Romney is campaigning to take away people's health care. If he wants wealthy horse owners like himself to get more tax privileges and for teachers and firefighters to be laid off to pay for it, we're going to point that out."
Ebeling, Rafalca's Olympic rider, responded to the criticism today at Olympic Park, reports Bloomberg Business Week, saying:
"If you look at our team, there's nobody who's a millionaire. When I grew up we had no money. I worked my butt off. I cleaned stalls. People saw the talent and would let me ride their horses. Money is not something that defines dressage. It's something you can do with a normal budget."
Of course, there's no telling what a normal budget is for an event that includes Prince Abdullah al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Alvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto, husband of Athina Onassis; Princess Nathalie Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein of Denmark and Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, all competing in various riding disciplines. Hadley Freeman, a columnist for the London-based Guardian newspaper, added that:
"The only sport the Romneys could be involved in that would make them look wealthier than dressage would be gold-coin diving in their family safe."
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