Horse racing in Japan is a popular sport and one of the favorite pastime activities of Japanese. In fact, today Japan is one of the top horse racing countries in the world. Also, Japanese horses and jockeys participate in the best international races.
Over 21,000 horse races take place annually in Japan. You can bet on them at the online gambling sites in Japan. The Japan Cup is one of the most important and prestigious races in Japan.
The History of Horse Racing in Japan
Horses in Japan always had an important role. In ancient times Japanese gave horses as very valuable gifts. Also, fighting horsemen often became leaders of their clans and the best part of the fight depended on the strength of the horse.
The origin of horse racing in Japan starts in the 6th century A.D. During those times it was a form of entertainment. Races were held during religious ceremonies and festivals.
Japanese started to organize modern-style horse races during the 1860s in Yokohama. The first race of that kind ran in Yokohama in 1862. After that, it became more and more popular throughout Japan. In the 1870s and 80s, the races were already held in Tokyo, Shinjuku, near the Shinobazu lake. However, during this period, horse races had only religious and entertaining purposes and as back in the ancient times held during festivals.
After integrating the new style of horse racing, Japanese breeders started to use western techniques and importing new kinds of horses from Germany, England, and America.
The first betting tickets on horse racing in Japan were sold in 1906 for the four-day race near the Ikegami Honmonji temple. However, horse races had a negative effect on many people’s lives, many lost their assets by betting all their money. So, soon in 1908 the government banned gambling on horse races. However, the ban lasted only for a short period of time. Due to the rising popularity of horse races, the government had to legalize betting on horse races. Since then horse racing is flourishing in Japan becoming one of the top countries of this equestrian sport.
The Japan horse racing industry – who rules?
There are two organizations that regulate and organize horse racing in Japan: Japan Racing Association (JRA) and the National Association of Racing (NAR).
The Japan Racing Association is responsible for horse races at ten main racecourses in metropolitan areas and the National Association of Racing organizes local horse racings in Japan.
Japanese horse racing is a huge industry. To illustrate, according to the Japan Racing Association, in 2018, the betting revenue grossed $25.6 billion.
The Japan Cup
One of the most important races in the country and in the world is The Japan Cup 2,400 m invitational turf race. It is also one of the richest horse races in the world with a purse of $5.8 million. It runs Tokyo’s Fuchu Racecourse on the last Sunday in November.
The inaugural running of the Japan Cup was in 1981. The winner of the race became American bred mare Mairzy Doates, with jockey Cash Asmussen.
The Japan Cup became an officially rated international Group 1 race in 1984. And in 2018 it ranked seventh among the world’s top 100 Group 1 races.
The cup has winners from Japan, North America, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy. However, in recent years, more specifically since 2005 all the winners of the cup are from Japan.