Skelton, on Everest Limited Edition, cleared 7ft 4in in the third jump-off to win the Ben Nevis championship's pounds 6,650 first prize. His decisive leap was two inches better than the previous highest at a Scottish event and provided a memorable start to the four-day show where a UK record fund of pounds 200,000 is on offer.
Dutchman Henk van der Pol, on Fignon, and Ireland's Peter Charles, on Componist, were the only other competitors to get through to the last stage of the puissance, having cleared 7ft 1in, but then failed with their next attempt to finish equal second.
Philippe Lejeune, of Belgium, won the first event of the night, the Riverside Speed Stakes. The Belgian was swift and clear, as were van der Pol, on Marpe Cherie, and Ireland's Eddie Macken, on Symphonie, who finished second and third respectively.
Skelton would have won but for incurring a five-second penalty at the penultimate fence on the mare Showtime.