A Guide To Niigata Racecourse

Niigata Racecourse is a premium horse racing facility in the Kita-Ku ward of Niigata city, Niigata, Japan. The Massive racecourse is home to various graded races and is among the most popular sites in the Kita Ward.

It is one of the ten racecourses owned by the Japan Racing Association, the central horse racing body in the country. It is also one of the few racecourses in the country that are used for flat and steeplechase racing both.

Here is a brief account of the history and racecourse facility details of the Niigata Racecourse.

Niigata Racecourse History

While racing in Japan can be traced back to more than 1200 years, western-style horse racing started around 1861, around the time of the Meiji Restoration. The British occupants drained a wetland to organise horse races at what we call today Yokohama. The venue was named Yokohama Race club. Five years later, the Negishi Racecourse was established, and slowly horse racing gained traction in the country with the establishment of more racing venues and clubs.

In 1954, the Japan Racing Association was established as the leading racing body in the country. Presently, JRA organises around 288 race days each year, and the graded races are regarded as the top races in the country.

The magnificent Niigata Racecourse was built in 1965 along the Sea of Japan and, in a short time, became one of the country’s most prominent horse racing venues and hosted local and international events. It comprises unique features and has hosted some of the most historic races.

In the 1980s, it was one of the racing venues for the Ladies Cup, where female Jockeys from Japan, the USA, Canada, and Europe participated. From 1982 to 19997, the Niigata Racecourse was also home to the Japan-Korea Challenge. Jockeys were invited from the Republic of Korea to organise exchange races each year.

Niigata Racecourse Facilities

Niigata Racecourse has two oval turf tracks, a straight turf chute, and a dirt course. The outer turf track measures around 2248m, and it circles a smaller oval which is around 1648m. The straight chute measures 1000m. The dirt track at the Niigata Racecourse measures 1472m. Jump races at the racecourses take place via fences erected on the turf course.

Niigata Racecourse is the only racecourse in the country to have a straight course; a 1000m turf track built in 2001 is also one of Japan’s longest tracks. These turf tracks are unrivalled in the country, and the racing conducted on these tracks is parallel to that of a European venue.

Niigata Racecourse has a total capacity of 75,000 and features two spectator stands. One of these is named the Ibis Stand, after Niigata Prefecture’s official bird, the crested Ibis. The crested Ibis can also be seen on the finishing post. The second stand is the Niigata Long Straight, commonly known as the NiLS21 Stand. The NiLS21 stand was built in 2001 to correspond with the opening of Niigata’s straight course.

Both the spectator stands are fully air-conditioned and offer convenient indoor spaces with beautiful and wholesome panoramic views. These stands offer great views of the Niigata Racecourse and feature all the amenities required to enjoy a day at the races.

The racecourse also features betting points equipped with payout machines and automatic bet vendors, making it easier for punters to place their bets. Niigata racecourse also features leisure areas for kids and adults, including a kid’s plaza and an amusement park. Children can enjoy pony rides as well.

Major races at Niigata Racecourse

The Niigata Racecourse is home to a myriad of graded races, mostly of grade 3. Some prominent races include Sekiya Kinen, the Niigata Kinen, Niigata Nisai Stakes, Ibis Summer Dash, Leopard Stakes, Niigata Daishoten, and the Niigata Jump Stakes, among others.

How are Niigata and Sekiya Kinen different?

The Niigata and Sekiya Kinen share quite a few similarities but also differ. The races are held in August and on the turf course at Niigata Racecourse.

The Niigata Kinen was introduced in 1965, and Sekiya Kinen was introduced a year later; however, both races were upgraded to a Grade III status in 1984. The Niigata Kinen is a handicap race reserved for aged three and above and runs over a distance of 2000m. On the other hand, the Sekiya Kinen has weight for age conditions, is reserved for horses aged three and up, and runs over a distance of 1600m.

How to get to Niigata Racecourse

Niigata Racecourse is a 20-minute drive away from Niigata Airport. If you are arriving via train, buses can take you to the racecourse in 40 minutes from Niigata Station. However, if you arrive at the Shibata Station or Toyosaka Station, it will take around 30 and 15 minutes to get to the racecourse. Extra bus service from the Niigata Station is also available to cater to the increased crowds on race days.

Does Niigata Racecourse have betting facilities?

Niigata Racecourse, one of Japan’s most prominent horse racing venues, does indeed feature betting facilities. Established by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) in 1965, this racecourse has grown to be a key location for both local and international horse racing events. It boasts a capacity of 75,000 spectators and includes two spectator stands, namely the Ibis Stand and the NiLS21 Stand, both offering excellent views and amenities to enhance the racing experience.

The racecourse is equipped with betting points, complete with payout machines and automatic bet vendors, simplifying the process for punters to place their bets. This setup aligns with the general approach to betting in Japan, where sports betting, including horse racing, is one of the government-approved gambling forms. The Japan Racing Association organises approximately 288 race days each year, with Niigata Racecourse playing a significant role in this schedule.

Moreover, for those who can’t attend the races in person, the JRA operates WINS off-site betting shops across Japan. These offices provide facilities for checking odds, watching races, placing bets, and receiving payouts, all in one convenient location. There are about 40 of these offices nationwide that open on race days, offering a comprehensive betting experience for enthusiasts of Japanese horse racing.

In summary, Niigata Racecourse not only serves as a major hub for horse racing in Japan but also caters to the betting aspect of the sport, aligning with the broader context of betting in Japan, where horse racing is a significant component.


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