We are delighted to bring you the BIG Stateside Interview with Jockey, Declan Carroll…
From being born in Louisville, KY. via the USMGA & Michael Halford to racing at Arlington Park & Keeneland, his journey so far is fascinating…..
We talk about his career to date, his route to becoming a Jockey, Family ties & the future….
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself please….
My name is Declan Carroll, I’m 22 years old and I’m a professional jockey.
I would like to think of myself as someone who wants to achieve more everyday and learn from ride. I’m an outgoing person and always up for something involving horses.
When you were younger, can you tell us your first racing memory?
This isn’t my first racing memory but my first time seeing how hard it is to achieve the highest level of success in racing, winning a Grade.1.
In 2010 my father won his first Grade. 1, with a filly named Acoma.
The race was The Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Did you always want to be a jockey or did you have another career in mind?
I’ve always wanted to be a jockey from the beginning, I’ve never had any other career in my mind before. I was on the racetrack before I could walk. I’ve grown up with it, and fell in love with it from the beginning.
My happiest place is when I’m in the saddle.
Obviously, every jockey has an ending point and when my time comes, I’d like to be in the bloodstock part of things. Seeing the horse from foal to yearling to 2 year old sales is something I love to see. Have been going to the sales since I was 6 years old with my dad.
I have been fortunate enough to work along side of some of the best in the industry.
What was your route into becoming a jockey?
Route coming into a jockey started with USMGA games, basically pony’s going as fast as they can while the riders have different tasks to complete. Involving jumping off and jumping on while they’re still going. The pony I started with I still have now, he’s a one of a kind.
I ventured into eventing after, something my sister Aisling has done since, she started and still does today. She’s now competing at the highest of levels.
I had an ex racehorse my father trained, Dr Rap was his name, eventually changed to Smarty. He really brought me along until I was 16.
Once I turned 16, I started galloping for Mark Casse, my father is Mark’s assistant.
and has been working for Mr. Casse since March 2016.
The summer I was turning 18 I went over to Ireland to work for Michael Halford at Copper Beach Stables.
My cousin Gary Carroll is a jockey and was champion apprentice 2x for Mr. Halford.
Gary has now gone on to be 2nd rider to Ger Lyons and is doing unbelievable. A top class jockey he is and someone I look up to.
Once returning back to the USA I went to Saratoga Race Course, back working for Mr. Casse. Following the end of the meet at Saratoga I went up to Woodbine Race Track to prepare for my first ride.
Do you remember your first ride & how many rides it took to land your first winner?
September 30th, 2018, I rode my first race for Mr. Casse on a horse named Mr. Cheerful. We finished 4th, he gave me a great spin around.
My first winner came on October 26, 2018 at Keeneland Race course. Wire to wire.
Who inspired you when you were entering the racing industry?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in the industry, my father was my biggest influence. I went to the races, sales, and farms with him everyday.
He’s brought me along everywhere with him and allowed me to meet new connections at every opportunity. Something that has helped through my career and helps me everyday.
A lot of it in the business is not what you know but who you know.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
A piece of advice I’ve carried with me from the beginning is to never let others get you down and if you want something don’t let anyone get in your way.
How did the chance to ride in the USA come about & how long have you been there?
I born in Louisville, KY. Stateside racing is always where I wanted to ride.
What are the main differences between UK/Irish racing & US Racing?
I think a big difference between the racing in the USA and Europe is the way races are run. The tempo in the states is much faster.
A few favourites….
Course to Ride…. Keeneland.
Drink…. would be along the lines to any Celsius flavor (energy drink). I’m not too keen on alcohol as it doesn’t have any real benefits.
Food…. would have to be a good steak.
Music… I’ll listen to anything. Prefer podcast for long drives
What has been your biggest win to date?
My biggest win would be at Sam Houston in Texas Mile (200k). January 31, 2021.
If you could WIN any race, anywhere in the world, which one would it be & why?
Winning the Kentucky Derby would be a dream come true.
The Derby has the biggest meaning in the states and something that I hold very close to my heart.
What motivates you?
I want to be the best in the world. I’m someone who is very driven and will work at all cost to try to achieve what my goals are.
Whatever I do, I give my best. Otherwise I see no point in doing it if your best isn’t going to be given.
How do you relax outside of racing?
I’ll probably still be watching racing but I enjoy going hiking and being with my girlfriend Isabella Leslie. Fortunately enough we both work in the same industry so we can complain to each other about the same things (haha).
And finally, do you have a US horse for our readers to keep an eye out for?
At the moment I have no serious horses for myself at the moment but that’s why we continue to work everyday and try to find them.
We would like to thank Declan for his time & we will be definitely be keeping an eye on his career in the US. We would like to wish Declan all the best for the future….
Interview – Rich Williams
Pictures – Courtesy of Declan Carroll
Published – September 2021