Again riding Everest Dollar Girl, Skelton was more audacious than ever in his approach to the fences, turning into some with room for only a stride or two before take-off. The mare, now 15, proved her enormous scope by jumping clear to beat Uquileo le Fol (the mount of Herve Godignon) by a cool 4.28sec.
Ludger Beerbaum, the German Olympic champion, missed yesterday's jump- off but he had already taken the plum prize of the show - a Volvo car worth pounds 20,000 - when winning the World Cup contest on Saturday in a jump- off which was arguably the best ever seen here.
Beerbaum's Gaylord was the second of seven horses into the the deciding round and he jumped superbly, notably when holding an acutely-angled line into the third jump-off fence. "The horse has all the experience, he knows how to do things like this," Beerbaum said, characteristically giving all the credit to his mount. He was nevertheless left with some anxious moments before the keys of the car were in safe keeping.
Skelton, holder of the World Cup, jumped a wonderful round on Dollar Girl only to see the clock run on by that frustrating margin of 0.01sec by which he was beaten. Another champion, Germany's world-title holder Franke Sloothaak, also produced a classic round on San Patrignano Weihaiwej and he too was less than one breath away to finish third, 0.16sec behind the winner.
Guy Goosen had the immense satisfaction of defeating the world champion when he won last night's Puissance on Sagrat, leaving Sloothaak as runner- up on San Patrignano Mister. Goosen, a 21-year-old from Warwickshire, was the only rider to jump clear in the fifth round when the red wall stood at 7ft 4in. "It was like riding to the side of a house, you just had to get your stride and try to hold on to it," Goosen said.
OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Christmas Hamper: 1 Everest Dollar Girl (N Skelton, GB) clear, 33.44sec; 2 Uquileo le Fol (H Godignon, Fr) clear, 37.72; 3 Cash (H Simon, Aut) clear, 34.38. Christmas Knock-Out: 1 Everest Randi (J Whitaker, GB); 2 Monterrey la Silla (J Tops, Neth); 3 Fiorella (G Goosen, GB) and Elpasja (W-J van der Schans, Neth). Volvo World Cup qualifier: 1 Gaylord (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 33.49sec; 2 Everest Dollar Girl (N Skelton, GB) clear, 33.50; 3 San Petrignano Weihaiwej (F Sloothaak, Ger) clear, 33.65. Standings on Western European League: 1 F Sloothaak (Ger) 58pts; 2 H Sprunger (Swit) 55; 3 L Beerbaum (Ger) 50. Best GB: 11 M Whitaker 34; 12 D Lampard 32. Brandy Butter stakes: 1 Sprehe It's Me (L Beerbaum, Ger) 32.09sec; 2 Athos du Masou (R-Y Bost, Fr) 32.77; 3 Renville (J Fisher, GB) 33.20. Christmas Cake Stakes: 1 Everest My Mesieur (M Whitaker, GB) 39.84sec; 2 Totoe (P Charles, Irl) 41.82; 3 Loro Piana Taktik (R Pessoa, Bra) 42.07. The Christmas Cracker: Rainbow de Trelon (H Bourdy, Fr) clear, 34.14; 2 Flyinge Electro (P Eriksson, Swe) clear, 34.89; 3 Cash (H Simon, Aut) clear, 35.32. Mistletoe Top Score: 1 Everest Welham (J Whitaker, GB) 1,360pts, 52.17sec; 2 Sprehe It's Me (L Beerbaum, Ger) 1,310, 50.13; 3 Orthos (P Murphy, GB) 1,310, 51.72. P&O Events Puissance: 1 Sagrat (G Goosen, GB) clear in 5th round; 2 San Patrignano Mister (F Sloothaak, Ger) 4 faults; 3 Hermann's Imagination (O Becker, Ger) and Sarcelle de Sisse (H Godignon, Fr) 4 faults in 4th round.