Harry Derham: One fall made me quit racing aged 19

Harry Derham
Derham rode 50 winners during his short-lived professional career

Harry Derham has revealed how a fall, and the subsequent death of his horse, led to him quitting competitive racing at the age of 19.

As the nephew of National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls, Derham has spent his whole life working in the sport.

But a heavy fall from Fox Run at Chepstow in October, where the horse lost his life, prompted the jockey to end his short-lived career.

"It's been hard to come to terms with the decision," he told BBC Somerset.

"But it's not a job you can do 99% committed, and I wasn't committed."

Bristol-born Derham started working at Nicholls' stables in Ditcheat at the age of 11 and became well-known on the pony racing and point-to-point circuit.

At 17, he started to ride for his uncle as a conditional jockey, earning his first major win on Brampour at Ascot in 2011 and followed it up with victory in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Harry Derham on Salubrious
Derham rode Paul Nicholls' Salubrious to victory at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013

Derham then decided to turn professional and he gained a Cheltenham Festival success in 2013 on Salubrious in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.

But six months later, the fall from Fox Run made him change his mind on his career choice.

"I didn't break anything, I was lucky," Derham recalls of the incident. "I was out for two weeks with a shoulder injury. But I'd be lying if I said I had my confidence back after that.

"The amount of people that invest money into the sport and into the yard, it's not fair if you're going out there to ride when you're not fully committed.

"I'd been thinking about it for an awful long time and when you have to tell everyone and you feel like you're letting people down.

"But everyone has been very supportive. My mum and dad, and Paul in particular, have been great. Paul said: 'I'd never make anyone do what they didn't want to do'.

"More than anything I feel relieved. I'm not upset I'm not riding any more because I feel like I've made the right decision. I'm just relieved everyone knows now and I can move on."

Derham's career stats

Derham, who rode 50 winners as a professional, has yet to decide on his next move, but says he is unlikely to leave the stables for good.

"Racing has always been my number one passion. It's not just about being a jockey, there's a lot of things to do in the sport," he added.

"It's time now to explore different things; what I want to do, what I don't want to do.

"I don't really like the word retired, it's more just moving on. You can't retire at 19, you just stop riding. It's the start of the journey, not the end."