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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Irish Jockey Declan Cannon Gearing Up for Kentucky Downs

'People Are Ringing for Me'
Declan Cannon is getting hot just before the Kentucky Downs meet with five wins in his last 10 mounts at Ellis Park, including on 25-1 shot on board Risky Town in Friday’s first race.
“Hopefully it keeps rolling on to the next stop, Kentucky Downs,” the jockey said.
A key to a good meet is being able to ride good horses.
“A lot of horses aim for that. I don’t know what I’ve got yet," Cannon said. "Hopefully we get lucky. I’m looking forward to it. People are ringing for me, so that’s good. It helps when you’ve had a good week the week before."
Cannon is a native of Ireland and rode in Europe, Dubai and Asia before relocating to America a few years ago. He was slow to learn about the European-style track in Franklin, Ky. 
“When I came here first, I started riding at Ellis and had a good meet. Everybody was talking about Kentucky Downs and I was like, ‘never heard of the place,’” said Cannon. “I ended only riding a few, because it was my first meet, and won an allowance race. It was a long shot — actually the horse Scooter Dickey now has, (graded-stakes winner) One Go All Go. That was my first experience. I rode a lot of horses there last year, hopefully the same this year.”
Cannon said the key to riding Kentucky Downs’ 1 5/16-mile course is “to stay out of the horse’s way.
“I’m used to going up and down hills, left and right-handed in Ireland and England. You’ll never see a horse get unbalanced in a field loose. So don’t get in its way. And that’s what it comes down to. Sometimes going down the bend, when you come down the hill, some riders might want to take back … You can slow them up after you get them half-way into the bend, but you have to just stay out of the way for the most part. Horses will switch leads sometimes because they’re not used to being on the turn for so long. But they’ll switch back when they’re ready. But you have to just leave them alone and not mess with them. It’s natural for me because a lot of tracks in Europe are like that.”
The jockey said the people coming to Kentucky Downs are true racing fans.
“I meet people there every year that I’ve seen before there at the rail; it’s very laid back,” he said. “People who are going there are really going to see the horse racing. It’s not like where people are just there to gamble. They’re actually there to see the horse racing. Because it’s unique, it’s different. I like the way they have some of the longer races, too.”
Edited release
Declan Cannon photo by Coady Photography

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