Tom Noone, 30, of North Abington, Massachusetts, and Fresco won the Grand Prix Musical Freestyle at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI in Loxahatchee, Florida, on Sunday, March 3. Fresco is a 15-year-old Westfalen gelding (Fruehlingsball x Fiorella) owned by Francine Weiner-Govostes. The pair scored 70.625% from a panel of international "O" judges.
The class was a qualifier for the World Equestrian Games Selection Trials to be held at Gladstone in June. The 12 top scoring riders who have competed in qualifying classes will be invited to compete in the trials. Riders are required to ride at a minimum of two CDIs and they must show the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix Freestyle. The Palm Beach Dressage Derby was Noone's first qualifying competition on the road to the World Equestrian Games.
Noone represented the U.S. at the World Cup Dressage Finals in Vilhelmsborg, Denmark, last year riding Fresco and used his freestyle from that competition - with a few new additions - at this year's Derby. "This was the first time that I did the two tempis to the one tempis back to the two tempis," said Noone. He added that it was the first time he had ever tried the movement and had not practiced it at home. "I did practice the twos following extended canter into the trot from that point. I actually made that addition and made the decision to do that this morning, because in some of the directives for degree of difficulty they've outlined twos to ones back to twos. Prior to these directives, I had the twos to the ones. Fresco's very good in his tempi changes and I didn't feel that that would be a difficult change to make."
Noone choreographed the kur himself and credits his mother, Judith Noone, for finding the music and creating the edits in the sound studio. The trot, the beginning piaffe/passage, the walk and the canter are all different renditions from four different pieces from the artist 'Enya'. The trot work is Sail Away from Enya, and the finale is from Lord of the Dance.
Keeping the crowd with him is a factor Noone includes when creating his kur. "Choosing your music in relation to the horse, that's where it all begins," he said, adding that actually the music itself can carry the crowd. Mrs. Noone knows Fresco's gaits well and selects several pieces of music for each gait, which Tom then plays while watching a show tape, matching music to gaits. "She has a very, very good eye for that, so they all fit. I don't have to worry about that part of it," said Noone. "I want to have the goosebumps when I watch it on video. If I can feel from the music some emotion, and then of course if it's enhanced by the horse's going with the music, then I choose that piece for that gait."
Noone said he was happy to hear that Steffen Peters will represent the U.S. at the 2002 World Cup. Noone had not factored qualifying for the World Cup into his show plans this year, but is aiming for the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, in September. "That's what we were here this weekend for, the Selection Trials for the World Equestrian Games," said Noone. He placed second in the Grand Prix on Saturday with Fresco, earning a 66.80%. He will compete at the upcoming WEF Dressage Classic March 14-17 in pursuit of the scores he needs in the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special to qualify for the Selection Trials.
Noone is also looking at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. "Absolutely, at some point for sure, that would be fabulous if we could make it to that point."