‘It’s going to be emotional’: superstar Hickstead Derby hero to retire in main ring aged 20

  • One of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby’s most popular and consistent contenders is to be retired before this year’s event, at the age of 20.

    Harriet Biddick’s heroic A Touch Imperious will be given a fitting send-off in the International Arena just before the class on Sunday (23 June).

    Harriet and “Henry” have finished second in the Derby five times, and come third twice, winning nearly £117,000 just in this class. He was also the joint-winner of the Derby trial in 2022. It had been hoped that he would be able to try for the Boomerang trophy again this year, having missed the 2023 running with a minor injury, but Harriet felt he was not fully fit.

    “He is 20 now, and he owes us nothing,” she said. “He’s got a fantastic record in the class, and I want to keep it that way.

    “He’s jumped some nice clears recently and has been feeling good, but I didn’t want to jump him in the Derby unless he felt 1,000%. I know it’s going to be emotional, but it’s a real honour to be able to retire him at Hickstead, it’s like home to him.”

    A Touch Imperious was bred by Leo and Dominic Rice, of Premier Sports Horses, by Touchdown out of Cavalier Royale mare Cavimperius. Harriet’s father Rupert Nuttall bought him as a young horse from Ireland and Harriet has produced him to the top. Together they represented Britain on Nations Cup teams including the 2018 final.

    “A Touch Imperious may not have won the Al Shira’aa Derby, but he is one of the most consistent horses in the history of the class,” said Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn. “We are really sad to see his remarkable career draw to a close, but we’re touched that Harriet has chosen the All England Jumping Course – the scene of so many of his best moments – as the location for his retirement ceremony.”

    The retirement ceremony will take place shortly before the parade of riders in the Derby.

    The Rices bought back a half sister of Cavimperius, Premier Lux Like Murphy by Lux Z, and now have a filly out of her, by their Touchdown stallion Premier Sport who is out of a Cavalier Royale mare.

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