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About: Harry Derham

Recent Posts by Harry Derham

Track success earns the dinner of champions

Hello everyone, this week’s blog is penned on the back of some excellent days at the races with plenty of nice winners on track which encouraged me to enjoy a steak and pint celebration on Tuesday!

From Truckers Lodge getting off the mark over fences at Chepstow to Ecco winning well at Ascot or Calva D’Auge creating a nice impression at Plumpton there has been plenty to enjoy, but the performance which without doubt gave me most enjoyment was Dan McGrue winning on Monday at Plumpton.

While it was not the biggest race Paul will win this season, it was hugely satisfying to see Dan McGrue get back to winning ways after what was a hugely frustrating season the year before with niggly problems stunting any form of progress made.

This year, following his breathing operation, Dan is a new animal and seems to be loving his job and his racing. His seasonal debut was very encouraging two weeks ago and, following a very positive ride from Harry, he got the job done in a competitive heat.

Dan McGrue obviously does the running himself, but he owes his success in part to his owners The Barbers, Martins and Bennetts who have been patient with him and allowed Paul the time to get him back to his best. He has done that by getting him enjoying his training once again and Kate, who rides him every day, deserves great credit for encouraging Dan to retain his enthusiasm for his work from day to day.

As I say, his victory was not a huge win, but it meant the absolute world to his owners and for us working with the horses every day it is wonderful to see.

Michelle’s brilliant efforts rightly rewarded

Elsewhere this week we have celebrated the first employee of the month award and October’s winner was Michelle Marsh who, having joined us in the summer, has done a brilliant job with her horses. I have no doubt in saying that her yard favourite is Touch Kick and his win at Fakenham in October topped off what has been a brilliant start to her life at Ditcheat so we were delighted to award Michelle the Dodson and Horrell sponsored prize.

I am finding it hard to believe that we are already into November which means that Paul’s team is really starting to hit their stride now and are running to a really good level which bodes very well for the coming weekends where some big targets lay. My routine of heading off to the races is now pretty much in full swing and I love that part of my job very much.

I have said before in my blog that getting to meet our owners at the races and a huge amount of different people has always been a fun part of my job and I am lucky I get to head off racing so much. It does not really slow down not until the end of April which I will not be complaining about.

One race I did not get to see first hand was Clan Des Obeaux who made his excellent seasonal reappearance at Down Royal over the weekend, finishing second to Road To Respect having jumped brilliantly throughout the race. I know Paul was thrilled with that run and all roads now lead to the King George where I am sure he will put up another big display.

Ascot events leave us all perplexed

While Clan was strutting his stuff in Ireland I was in the middle of one of the most bizarre situations I have ever had to deal with on a racecourse at Ascot.

Obviously everyone knows what happened and, while there has been a huge amount said about it all, I just want to make this point as in a tricky situation the owners of Capeland, Mr and Mrs Stuart, have been amazingly sporting about the whole situation.

There would be very few owners that were keen to congratulate the de la Hey’s after the race and when I rang Mrs Stuart that was exactly what she wanted me to do.

It was obviously a very unfortunate event and hopefully Capeland will be able to make up for the disappointment of Saturday another time this season. However, credit to Diego Du Charmil who managed to get back to the front after coming to a standstill and losing all of his rhythm.

That’s just about all I have time for this time for this week so I hope you have enjoyed reading my latest offering and I will speak to you all in a fortnight.

Go well, Harry


Ditcheat primed for the dawn of a new season

It feels quite fitting that I find myself writing my first blog of this brand new season on the eve of our first winter runners; one might even think I had planned it, and while I’d love for that to be true, in all honesty it is not.

This is a bit of good old fashioned luck that has made me look organised and for those loyal readers who have supported my blog for the past four seasons I welcome you back and I hope I can entertain for another season.

I will however start with a little house-keeping and that is to say that this year my blog will be coming to you every other Wednesday with my reasoning two fold. The first reason is that a really good mate of mine, Ryan Bliss, asked if I’d do a podcast with him through this season and I thought that would be a cool idea, in part down to the fact I’m a big podcast fan myself.

So the week that the blog is not present a podcast will be recorded instead, for all you readers and non listeners I can only apologise. Second reason for it being produced on a Wednesday as opposed to a Monday like last season is time. I found myself racing to complete the blog last season on a Sunday night, generally fairly tired after a weekend racing, so writing it as I am now on a Tuesday evening seemed like a much better idea.

Good, that’s the house-keeping done, now to update you on me and the yard.

Summer chores completed, now the fun begins

Things here are all good and to level with you I cannot really believe I am now six months into my fourth season as assistant to Paul, you know the old saying about time and fun well it seems it must be true. Work is really very good at the moment with anticipation high as always at this time of year to get going and get involved in what promises to be another exciting National Hunt season.

The summer as always at Ditcheat was quiet in terms of our representation on the track, but manic everywhere else with gallops to turn, horses to check, stables to fix, disinfect and paint all while Paul bought some really beautiful looking store horses that totalled at the end of the summer a nice round 14. They look a smashing bunch and I cannot wait to see how they progress with Will Biddick this season before they join us at big school later in the season.

Obviously just like every season July and August is a fun time of year with lots of new faces human and equine to get to know and this year I am of the belief that on both fronts we are doing well.

New faces settling in well

From new pupil assistant Charlie who has settled in brilliantly to lots of new full-time staff like Michelle from Cheltenham, Mia who opted for a year with us instead of University, Holly, quite possibly the funniest person to ever set foot in Ditcheat, Keaton who despite a hilarious unseat just last week has nestled in nicely and Angus who gets the award for continuing to bring some of the best one-liners possible despite not particularly realising he is that funny.

With a staff the size of Paul’s there will always be new faces and this year is no different, but good characters always fit in well here and some of the guys I have mentioned and others have all contributed to the beating heart of the engine room in the team.

It is as exciting as it has been for some time equine wise in my opinion. The horses look superb and have generally trained pretty well this pre-season with established stars and bright new talents filling a currently increasing capacity. Highbridge, our second yard, is undergoing an exciting development that will be finished next week, seeing eleven boxes put up and a brand new walker, further enhancing what is already a great yard.

All eyes focused on Chepstow as young talent unleashed

I will just briefly touch on some of the top names like Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon and Politologue who are all looking well and I believe Paul is really happy where all of them are at the moment, they each have targets and are being trained accordingly, but fingers crossed they will all perform just as well if as last term.

As I said at the beginning of this blog we are on the eve of our winter runners starting again and like everyone in the yard I am really excited for the coming months. While this is where the hard work really begins it is also when the fun starts. The past few months have been filled with long days of hard and focused work in order the prepare the horses as perfectly as we possibly can and now, now we are able to watch them run.

The week’s meeting at Chepstow is always where Paul considers the proper start to the jump season and this year is no different with some lovely horses likely to tackle their respective races, Silver Forever, Trevelyns Corn, Flic Ou Voyou, Greaneteen, Secret Investor, Scaramanga and Glenlivet some names among others we are looking forward too.

I am going to leave it at that this time as I want to try and keep the blogs short, sharp and enjoyable this season, but until next time enjoy the winter runners starting to come back out and go well.


Summer in Ditcheat

A visit to some of our horses out in the fields

Watch the video to see how some of our stars and new horses are enjoying their summer and hear Paul’s plans.



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