A YOUNGSTER from Olveston is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and enjoy a successful horse racing career after finishing second in his first race.

Harry Derham, 16, is the nephew of five-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls and made his debut as an amateur racer at Exeter last month in a three-mile race over hurdles on Royal Collonges.

The Year 11 Castle School pupil spends his school holidays at Nicholls’ stable in Ditcheat, where he is being shown the ropes in his fledgling career, and he counts himself lucky to have such a highly regarded tutor.

“He’s done brilliantly and he’s a good role model,” said Derham of Nicholls.

“He’s been good to have around and watching his horses have inspired me a lot really.”

Being a regular at the Cheltenham Festival has also helped whet Derham’s appetite.

He has seen Nicholls enjoy unparalleled success, with three Gold Cup winners in successive years, including a memorable one-two-three in the 2008 season.

“I’ve been to Cheltenham in the past few years. It’s so good to watch, we go to the Gold Cup every year,” said Derham.

“It inspires you, that’s what you want to do, because it’s the Olympics for racing and you want to end up at that level.

“I help out Paul as much as I can and after the race it’s brilliant because the whole family is there and we share Paul’s success.”

Derham has already enjoyed some success of his own with 28 winners racing ponies, and, after his impressive performance at Exeter, he is eagerly awaiting his next ride from Nicholls.

And his career is starting down the same path as his uncle’s, as he is set to race in the point-to-point season, which starts in December.

Nicholls went onto ride 133 winners in seven years as a professional jockey after starting on the same circuit.

“It’s a good grounding for me to do that,” said Derham.

“I’ll see what happens until Paul gives me my next ride, but I’m only young so I’m being slowly built up.

“I want to progress through the ranks, see how it goes and hopefully become a professional in time.

“I want to try and be a jockey, that’s my first aim, and I’ll go from there. Whether I become a trainer or not I don’t know.”

If Derham goes on to become a professional jockey it could also stoke up the rivalry between the Nicholls and Twiston-Davies stables.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies took the Gold Cup crown off Nicholls earlier this year, while his son Sam is also making giant strides as a young professional jockey.

Derham enjoyed good pony racing battles against Sam, two years his senior, and watching his old rival’s career take off has given him belief that he can follow suit.

He said: “We were always pretty even, we beat each other a few times, but we both had good ponies and it was always quite close.”

“I see him doing well and if he does it then I’m not too far away, so I’ll try and do the same as him.

“He’s a good person to look at, I think he started the same way as me so why can’t I do it.”

Nicholls is aiming to keep Derham’s feet on the ground for the moment.

“He’s at the bottom of a big ocean and has got to work his way up to the top,” said Nicholls.

“I think he could be good if he gets the right breaks.”