Skelton's victory was achieved on Everest Dollar Girl, with whom he had his worst experience in show jumping when eliminated for three refusals at last year's Olympic games. The mare has recently had a three- month rest because Skelton felt she might be feeling 'a bit sick of jumping'.
Yesterday it seemed that her holiday had renewed her appetite for jumping big courses. Having always regarded the Olympic debacle as 'out of character', Skelton rode her with stylish assurance for a fluent corner-cutting round.
Whitaker had been equally smooth with Gammon, the horse he rode to win last year's Calgary Grand Prix and he held on to the runner-up prize, despite a spirited attempt from Italy's Guido Dominici who was also within a second of the winning time. The younger Whitaker brother, Michael, missed the 12-horse jump-off with a single error on Everest Midnight Madness.
Britain's Warren Clarke, 23, making his first appearance in Rome, looked to be heading for a clear round on Aretha in the earlier Premio Azalee until being forced to pull up after damaging a muscle in his left thigh.Reuse content