Equestrianism: Skelton breaks out the bubbly as cup falls flat: Spectators denied thrill of a jump-off as rivals produce faulty performances to leave sure-footed Limited Edition in the clear for the main prize

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NICK SKELTON jumped only one round at the Royal International Horse Show, but it was good enough to earn him the richest award of the meeting: the pounds 7,500 that went to the winner of yesterday's Bond International Championship for the King George V Gold Cup.

Skelton, who arrived at Hickstead yesterday morning, jumped the only clear round of the contest with Everest Limited Edition. Though he was happy enough to win without a jump-off, it was an anti-climax for the public who were hoping for a thrilling final round against the clock.

All the other favourites made single errors - David Broome on Lannegan and Harvey Smith on Gold at the planks, Michael Whitaker on Everest Midnight Madness at the derby rails and John Whitaker on Hopscotch at the water.

They were among the 11 riders who will be entitled to say that they were equal second in this year's non-vintage King's Cup. Skelton did not regard the course as difficult (although he was told that three fences had been raised after the riders walked it); the shortage of clear rounds was more a reflection on the standard of entries than the size of the fences. Some British riders were competing abroad, others had left their top horses at home.

Skelton's only other victory in this annual contest for men was in 1984 when he won on St James after a three-horse jump-off.

Yesterday's win was the second in six days for the 10-year-old Limited Edition, who triumphed in a class at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh last Tuesday. Skelton expects to ride Dollar Girl at the European Show Jumping Championships in Spain at the end of the month, but Limited Edition will also make the trip. The championship horses will compete at two French shows - La Baule which begins on Thursday and Royan a week later - on their way to Spain.

Unlike the King's Cup, Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Cup for women riders ended with a splendid jump-off and a second consecutive victory for Tina Cassan, now riding a new string of horses for Trevor Banks and the show's sponsors, Bond International.

Fred Brown (owner of last year's winning horse, Genesis) died in January and Cassan's former mounts were put on the market. This was only her third show with Bond Xtra, her winning partner on Saturday.

ROYAL INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW (Hickstead, Sussex): Bond International Championship for the King George V Gold Cup: 1 Everest Limited Edition (N Skelton, GB) clear in first round; 2= Mr Midnight (C Chadwick, Aus), Sky Breeze (G Goosen, GB), Everest Vantage (G Luckett, GB), Sidney Sneak (R Barton, GB), Impulse (P Charles, Irl), Gold (H Smith, GB), Everest Hopscotch (J Whitaker, GB), Everest Midnight Madness (M Whitaker, GB), Murphy's Favour (T Newbery, GB), Lannegan (D Broome, GB) 4 faults in first round. Queen Elizabeth II Cup: 1 Bond Xtra (T Cassan, GB) clear, 44.90sec; 2 Everest Asher (L Edgar, GB) clear, 47.05; 3 Alfredo (K Brown, GB) clear, 47.95.

(Photograph omitted)