Britain’s Nick Skelton has scooped a bedazzling $178,000 (£100,000) in the first ever Las Vegas Invitational Grand Prix. Skelton’s decision to miss HOYS and vie for the $1,000,000 Las Vegas purse paid off when he jumped a faultless double clear round to finish second aboard the Hales family’s esteemed stallion, Arko III.
However the split-second separating Skelton and the jackpot winner proved extremely costly. Brazil’s Olympic gold medallist and former world champion Rodrigo Pessoa (Baloubet du Rouet) cleared the course 0.81 sec faster than Skelton to land an astonishing $750,000.
Nottinghamshire’s Michael Whitaker (Portofino) also jumped clear but finished almost two seconds behind Pessoa to take fourth place, 0.9 seconds behind German World Cup champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Checkmate).
Despite boosting the biggest ever pay-out in show jumping history, the final six competitors jumped in front of a depleted audience. Only a few thousand people turned up to watch the contestants negotiate course designer Olaf Petersen’s Vegas-style fences that included a host of giant playing cards, slot machines and a motorbike.