Rome was a great success even though the Italians only had a year in which to prepare after the Dublin bid fell through due to bad luck and organisational problems. For a second time, the original successful bidder had failed to live up to the hype despite promising initial plans.
A total of 42 nations competed in all disciplines and 86 riders took part in the show jumping championships which were staged in the slightly jaded, but nevertheless practical, Flaminio football stadium in the city. The weather gods were not helpful and torrential rain left the arena under water on the show jumping championship warm-up day, but the excellent footing recovered superbly.
The Germans took team gold for the second time in succession but were denied a second double of victories when Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa became the youngest-ever winner of the individual title at the age of 25. With a narrow lead after the first three competitions, Pessoa was joined in the change-horse final by defending team and individual champion Franke Sloothaak from Germany, Willi Melliger from Switzerland whose big, graceful grey Calvaro was the revelation of the show jumping event and Frenchman Thierry Pomel.
Another sensation of Rome 1998 was Nelson Pessoa, father of Rodrigo, who had finished fourth in Buenos Aires way back in 1966 and fifth individually at The Hague just four years earlier and who showed that, at the age of 62, he had lost none of his sparkle when slotting into third in the opening speed leg, eventually finishing in 11th place with Baloubet du Rouet.