With royalty on and off the field at Greenwich Park, Britain
ruled the Olympic equestrian events at the London Games.
The British won three of the six medals, including golds in team
show jumping, team dressage and individual dressage. And, of
course, silver in team eventing – with Queen Elizabeth II’s
granddaughter, Zara Phillips, competing for the host nation.
”I hope it doesn’t end here. I hope it’s the start of the team
evolving,” said Britain’s Laura Bechtolsheimer, who rode Mistral
Hojris for the British dressage team. ”We’ve been watching on the
telly how the crowds have been. The crowds have been carrying the
athletes. We got to experience that ourselves, and it’s a
The most attention was focused on Britain’s eventing team when
it won silver. With plenty of royal relatives in the crowd,
Phillips galloped with her team to second place behind Germany, the
start of Britain’s most successful equestrian Olympics.
Prince William, second in line to the British throne, his wife,
the former Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Prince Charles’ wife
Camilla all came to watch. Zara’s mother, Princess Anne, presented
Politics provided some of the sideshow with Ann Romney, wife of
U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in London to cheer on
Rafalca, a dressage horse she co-owns. Rafalca and rider Jan
Ebeling finished 28th out of the 50 horses entered here and the
U.S. dressage team finished sixth.
”She was consistent and elegant,” Romney said of Rafalca.
”She did not disappoint. She thrilled me to death.”
The campaign issue of Romney’s personal wealth supporting an
Olympic horse accentuated the impression that equestrian sports are
only for the wealthy. Although many of the riders come from
middle-class backgrounds, they are often supported in their Olympic
ambitions by wealthy sponsors.
However, the issue of expensive horsepower and its effect on
Olympic results came to the forefront when the team from Saudi
Arabia won bronze in show jumping. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul
Aziz Al-Saud, one of the world’s richest royals, provided ample
funding for the team over the last two years, ensuring the best
horses and trainers were made available to chase medals in
In other golds, Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, riding Nino des
Buissonnets, won the individual show jumping and Michael Jung,
aboard Sam, took individual gold in eventing. British rider
Charlotte Dujardin, riding Valegro, won the individual
American riders were shut out from the medals after winning
three at the 2008 Beijing Games, including team gold in show
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