PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER
Derham quits the
saddle aged 19
HARRY DERHAM, conditional jockey to Paul Nicholls and one of the bright young talents among the jump jockeys' ranks, has surprisingly retired from the saddle at the age of 19.
Derham, who is Nicholls' nephew, said he had come to the shock decision not to accept any more rides after suffering a loss of confidence following a bad fall last year.
"This has been a terribly difficult decision for me to make as becoming a professional jockey is all I've ever wanted to do, but it's something I've been thinking about for the last couple of months," he said on Tuesday.
"It stems back to a fall I had on Fox Run at Chepstow last October, when the horse lost his life and I was out for a fortnight. The whole thing affected me quite badly. It made me stop and ask whether this is something I really wanted to do. My confidence was affected and raceriding isn't a job you can do unless your confidence is intact.
"It's hard to describe my emotions right now, but my mind is made up and I have decided to stop. My mum and dad have been a huge support and Paul has been incredible, saying he would never make me do something I didn't want to do."
Derham has worked at Nicholls' Manor Farm Stables since the age of 11 and was a teenage sensation on the pony racing circuit, riding around 20 winners. On gaining his amateur licence he rode seven winners in point-to-points and lost little time making his mark when Nicholls started utilising his claim.
Derham was still a fresh-faced 17-year-old when he gained his first big win on Brampour in a televised handicap hurdle at Ascot in October 2011. A fortnight later the pair landed the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.
He ended the 2011-12 season with 19 winners and more big-race success came the following year when he gained his only Cheltenham Festival success on Salubrious in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.
"That victory meant so much to all of us at Ditcheat as it came just after the death of Clifford Baker's son Dominic and the whole yard needed a lift," he said.
Derham, who rode 50 winners under rules, gained his biggest win over fences aboard Unioniste in the 2012 Paul Stewart Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
He added: "I'd like to thank all the owners and trainers who put me up. And in particular, my good friend Daryl Jacob and Ruby [Walsh] have been a huge support to me through my career."
Nicholls said: "I advised Harry not to rush into a decision but I can't say it surprised me and I respect his wishes. Harry grew up with us here and riding for the yard was all he wanted to do. I gave him his chances because he earned them. There'll always be a job for him here. He's a brilliant schooling jockey."
Derham says he will continue working at Ditcheat while he considers his future.