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An Interview with Future Trainer Harry Derham

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Harry Derham, 27, grew up riding ponies in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire. ‘My Granddad taught my Uncle Paul and my mum to ride,’ explains Harry, ‘and did the same for my sister and me.’

That ‘Uncle Paul’ is no other than Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls, so it was probably inevitable that a career in racing beckoned. Harry was a successful jockey, winning the Martin Pipe at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival on Salubrious, but retired at the age of nineteen a year later. The aim was, one day, to train but, still based at Nicholls’, he spent a year as pupil assistant before moving on up to Assistant Trainer for seven seasons. He was a huge part of the yard, even writing a blog about daily life at the yard.

After those eleven informative years based in Somerset, Harry is just moving to a purpose-built yard in Berkshire. ‘Fingers crossed,’ Harry hopes. ‘I’ll have my first runners at Christmas or just after.’ To be honest, we sincerely hope that this bold and assertive rookie trainer will be successful.

Did you have a horsey childhood?

I did. Granddad, who was a police officer, provided my sister Amy and I with some lovely ponies; we were very lucky. We were members of the Berkley Pony Club and I got a lot keener after I turned ten. I always wanted to go fast on my ponies!

How did you get into racing?

It was probably always on the cards; I always went racing with my Dad on Saturdays. I then spent a lot of time stood next to Dan Skelton and his now-wife Gracie Skelton.

Growing up, I had no better inspiration to get into racing than Paul Nicholls, Ruby Walsh and Kauto Star.

Which was your best day as a jockey?

Winning the Greatwood Hurdle on Brampour. I was seventeen, still an amateur and hadn’t been long out of school; it was Cheltenham in November and I’ll never forget the unbelievable feeling of crossing the finish line in front.

Far Right: Harry winning the Greatwood Hurdle

Which were your best days as an Assistant Trainer?

I enjoyed many amazing and incredible days. One was Paul sending out eight winners in a day: five at Ascot, two at Wincanton and one at Haydock. Frodon in the Ryanair will always be special; he was so brave and kept fending off every challenger. The reception he received was phenomenal.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Early on in my racing career, my former boss Paul said, ‘Horses can’t speak but will tell you all you want to know if you listen.’

Harry and Brampour

Photo Credit: Getty Images

What is the best aspect of racing?

I love multiple things but the joy of working with the racehorse is my number one. They are spectacular animals and all what they’re capable of doing for you, of running, jumping and trusting you.

For me, racing is a dreamland of being around good people and being at the races, but working with horses is where my joy comes from.

What is the worst aspect to racing?

There’s too much of it – too much Flat and jumps, which leads to small fields and everyone is stretched. A good break would not be a bad thing.

Fast forward ten years, where would you like to be?

My dream, goal and ambition are to be one of the leading National Hunt trainers in the country. It’s a difficult way to earn a living but I’d love to train horses for top level races.

Which racehorse would you most like to have trained?

Kauto Star – he was awesome, exceptional in every way and was, no doubt, the greatest.

Is social media positive or negative?

It has the capacity to be both; if used in the right way, it’s positive but can be ruined. Twitter has become increasingly negative.

Will you continue to write your blog?

At Paul’s, I loved writing my blog and I fully intend to continue. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my work life.

A Cheltenham Festival winner on Salubrious

Photo Credit: Gettys Images

*Many thanks to Old Gold Racing for the help in securing this interview who first published it in their fabulous newsletter Racing Weekly. To sign up go to

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