Racing Groom Ambassadors


Harry Derham

Assistant Trainer

Paul Nicholls Racing
Ditcheat, Somerset

What training did you have to get into racing?

When I first got into racing it was with the sole purpose of being a jockey. My first experience of the British Racing School was for the license courses and latterly the jockey development training courses. After stopping riding after 50 winners, I decided that I wanted to become more involved with the yard side of things and as a result I completed my Level 3 Diploma in Work Based Racehorse Care and Management and Work Riding. Most of that course was written work for me as I had already passed the riding aspect of the course through my jockey license.

Every time I have come into contact with the British Racing School they have been amazing – from the course and services they provide to the people there. The British Racing School is a fantastic place to get started and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough to people that are starting out.

Who do you work for?

I am working as assistant trainer to the 10 times National Hunt Champion trainer Paul Nicholls. Paul has a massive team which I am incredibly proud to be a part of and I consider myself very lucky to have such a great job.

Did you arrange any work experience before your started your training?

From a very young age I had always ridden and was lucky to be involved with Paul’s yard from around age 12. My work experience came when I was 15 and was a week I will never forget. It was the first time that working in racing felt real and I seriously got the bug from there. 

How did you get your job with Paul Nicholls?

For ten years after he retired my grandfather was gallop man to Paul Nicholls, so that meant spending a lot of time down here in the company of Paul watching the horses. As soon as I was old enough I wanted to ride out and be part of it. I guess from that point on I was never really going to work anywhere else.

What do you do in your job?

My day varies every single day, that’s what I love about it. Every morning I am involved in doing our board or work list. This is an important part of the day where Paul and his senior team decide how all the horses are going to train for the day and who is going to ride which horse. After that I try to ride out as much as time allows me to, that’s one of my favourite parts of the job – getting to know the horses better and having the chance to chat to everyone. It gives you an idea of the yard mood and how everyone is doing.

The afternoons are extremely varied, from going racing with Paul or representing him when he doesn’t go, working on the gallops, riding a young horse, looking round or meeting new owners. There’s always loads going on and plenty to keep me busy. I have a small team that work with me in the afternoon and between us there isn’t much we can’t manage to work out and get done.

What do you like best about your job?

For me the thing I like best is when we have a nice winner. There is a big team of people who have worked together to achieve that success. Nobody can achieve great things on their own but when a group of people come together and work well you can achieve more than you can imagine. Big team wins are what satisfy me the most.

Other than that, I also love riding out every day, working with the horses, getting to know like-minded people. From day one racing was everything I ever wanted it to be and I consider myself incredibly lucky to be making a living from my passion.

What are your plans to progress your career?

Now that I am assistant trainer to Paul, my only real plan is to be a trainer myself one day. That will not be for a very long time however, as I am only 22 and I realise that I have an awful lot to learn before I even think about working for myself. Becoming a trainer would never be something I attempt without proper backing and a good yard to do it in, so I will just see what comes in time. For now I am totally focussed on my job and have no intention of doing anything else.

What tips would you give a person wanting to start a role as a racing groom?

I’d say come with a good work ethic, a good rain coat and a loud alarm clock. Smile and thoroughly enjoy the good days. Be passionate about your job and try your best.

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