Maher produced a dazzling display under the floodlights to give Team GB its second successive Olympic showjumping champion.
Great Britain’s Ben Maher won individual showjumping gold at Tokyo Equestrian Park after eclipsing his rivals aboard the brilliant Explosion W.
The 38-year-old helped Britain to London 2012 team gold alongside Skelton, Scott Brash and Peter Charles, and he added individual title glory after living up to his tag as pre-Games favourite.
Thirty combinations contested the final, with six going through to a jump-off before Maher triumphed from silver medallist Peder Fredricson, of Sweden and Holland’s Maikel van der Vleuten in bronze.
Maher’s victory gave the Great Britain equestrian team a fifth Olympic medal in Tokyo, equalling their record haul achieved in London.
His win followed gold for the eventing team and Tom McEwen’s individual eventing silver, plus team dressage bronze and Charlotte Dujardin’s individual dressage bronze.
Enfield-born Maher likened Explosion W’s power to driving a Ferrari following victory in the £430,000 Rolex Grand Prix at Royal Windsor last month.
And there was a jaw-dropping quality to what was effectively a showjumping masterclass on the sport’s biggest stage.
Maher won by 17 hundredths of a second, delivering a memorable jump-off round to take the Olympic title.
His Team GB colleagues Scott Brash and Harry Charles, though, did not make the jump-off.
It was agony for Brash on Hello Jefferson following an immaculate jumping round, but one time fault ended their medal chances.
Charles, meanwhile, had four fences down on Romeo 88 and retired just before the end of his round, but it was a valuable experience for one of British showjumping’s most exciting young riders.
Ireland’s trio of Cian O’Connor, Bertram Allen and Darragh Kenny also missed out, with O’Connor – like Brash – collecting a solitary time fault.