Horses To Follow In Japan

Horse racing enthusiasts and aficionados, Japan is ready to surprise you with an exceptional equestrian experience! As a nation deeply rooted in Shintoism, horses have long held a special place within Japanese culture.

Today, the Land of the Rising Sun offers some of the most thrilling horse races featuring rare breeds native to Japan. Prepare yourself as we gallop through popular races, unstoppable racehorses from Middle East and beyond to local prodigies like Hokkaido Washu and Misaki ponies.

By following these top contenders backed by the prestigious Japan Racing Association (JRA), immerse yourselves into this gripping world where tradition meets speed and elegance.

Key Takeaways

  • Japan has a rich horse racing culture with unique breeds and top-class racers, making it an excellent destination for horse racing enthusiasts.
  • Popular Japanese races such as The Japan Cup, Arima Kinen and Yasuda Kinen offer thrilling experiences for fans.
  • Famous Japanese racehorses to follow include Almond Eye, Contrail, Gran Alegria, Daring Tact and Chrono Genesis.
  • Watching Japanese horse racing is accessible both locally and globally through various media channels such as racecourses, off-track betting facilities, online streaming platforms or TV broadcasts.

The Role Of Horses In Japanese Culture

The cultural significance of horses in Japan can be traced back to Shintoism, the indigenous religion of the country. Within this faith, horses are often regarded as sacred animals and even serve as ‘cult objects’, symbolising purity and strength.

Apart from having spiritual importance within Japanese culture, horseback riding has also been a prevalent activity across Japan over time. In ancient times, traditional samurai warriors were skilled equestrians who utilised these majestic creatures during warfare and for transportation purposes.

Through initiatives aimed at promoting horse riding and equestrianism in Japan – like the establishment of The Equine Museum of Japan (EMJ) and organisations such as the Japan Racing Association (JRA) – an increasing number of people are becoming involved in both leisurely activities centred around equines as well as competitive events showcasing their abilities.

Japanese Horse Racing

Japanese horse racing is a thrilling sport with popular events such as the Japan Cup and Arima Kinen – read on to discover famous Japanese racehorses, where to watch races and tips for betting.

Popular Races And Events To Attend

Japanese horse racing boasts a variety of popular races and events to attend throughout the year. Here are some of the top options for horse racing enthusiasts:

The Japan Cup – held annually in November at Tokyo Racecourse, this prestigious international event attracts top horses from around the world.

The Arima Kinen – also known as the Grand Prix, this race takes place on the fourth Sunday in December at Nakayama Racecourse and showcases some of Japan’s best racehorses.

The Yasuda Kinen – held in early June at Tokyo Racecourse, this is one of Japan’s most important mile races and features some of the country’s top thoroughbreds.

Japanese Derby (Tokyo Yushun) – one of Japan’s most prestigious horse races, held annually in late May or early June at Tokyo Racecourse.

Japanese Oaks (Yushun Himba)– another major event that takes place in late May or early June at Tokyo Racecourse and features three-year-old fillies competing over a 2,400-meter distance.

With so many exciting events to choose from, there is no shortage of opportunities for horse racing fans to experience the thrill of Japanese horse racing firsthand.

Where To Watch Japanese Horse Racing

Japanese horse racing can be enjoyed both in-person and through various media channels. Here are some options for where to watch Japanese horse racing:

Racecourses: The Japan Racing Association (JRA) operates ten racecourses throughout Japan, including the famous Tokyo Racecourse and Kyoto Racecourse. Visitors can watch races from the grandstand or reserve a private box for a more exclusive experience.

Off-track Betting Facilities: If you’re unable to make it to a racecourse, many off-track betting facilities offer a similar atmosphere complete with large screens showing races from around the country.

Online Streaming: Some online betting platforms offer live streaming of JRA races, which is an option for those outside of Japan who want to keep up with the action.

Television Broadcasts: Popular Japanese television channels such as NHK and TVG broadcast live horse racing throughout the week, allowing fans to watch from home.

International Events: Some of Japan’s biggest horse races, such as The Japan Cup and The Arima Kinen, are televised internationally and can be watched live from countries such as Hong Kong and Australia.

With so many options available, watching Japanese horse racing is accessible both locally and globally. So whether you’re at home or abroad, there are plenty of opportunities to catch all the action.

Famous Japanese Racehorses To Follow

If you’re a fan of Japanese horse racing, then keeping an eye on these amazing racehorses will definitely be worth your while. Here are some famous Japanese racehorses to follow:

Almond Eye – A filly who has won seven out of nine starts and has been acclaimed as one of the most promising horses in Japan’s history.

Contrail – An undefeated colt who has won all six starts, including the prestigious Japanese Derby and is considered a top contender for the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) this year.

Gran Alegria – A five-year-old mare with an impressive record, winning seven out of nine starts and finishing second twice in Group 1 races.

Daring Tact – A three-year-old filly who became the first unbeaten triple crown winner in JRA history last year, winning all three jewels – Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), and Shuka Sho.

Chrono Genesis – A five-year-old mare with an outstanding record, winning six out of thirteen races including two Group 1 victories in the Arima Kinen and Takarazuka Kinen.

These exceptional horses have shown their skills on different tracks against top competition around the world and are undoubtedly worth following as they continue to compete at high levels in upcoming races.

Top Horses To Watch In Japan

These top Japanese racehorses, including Almond Eye and Chrono Genesis, are known for their impressive performances on the track – read on to discover more about these unstoppable horses.

Almond Eye

Almond Eye is one of the most dominant racehorses in Japan’s horse racing world. This mare has made a name for herself by winning numerous high-profile races, including the Japanese Oaks and the Japan Cup.

Trained by Sakae Kunieda, Almond Eye was born to an American stallion and a Japanese mare, making her a unique crossbreed in the Japanese equine industry. Her incredible speed and stamina make her unstoppable on the turf track, which has earned her countless victories and admirers among fans of thoroughbred racing.


Contrail is a three-year-old Japanese racehorse who has been making waves in the racing world. He has already accomplished an impressive feat by winning all six of his starts, including the coveted Japanese Triple Crown.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by jockey Yuichi Fukunaga, Contrail’s dominant performances have caused many experts to hail him as one of Japan’s greatest racehorses of all time.

His impeccable pedigree and unrivalled stamina have made him virtually unbeatable on the track, with punters eagerly anticipating his next appearance at major races like The Japan Cup or Arima Kinen.

Gran Alegria

Gran Alegria is one of the most celebrated racehorses in Japan and has won numerous G1 races throughout her career. The five-year-old mare made headlines in 2020 when she triumphed over male horses to take home the Yasuda Kinen trophy, beating out top competitors such as Indy Champ and Almond Eye.

What sets Gran Alegria apart from other horses is her incredible speed and endurance, making her virtually unstoppable on the track. In addition to winning the Yasuda Kinen, she has also claimed victory in other notable races like the Miyako Stakes and Sprinters Stakes.

Daring Tact

Daring Tact is a Japanese thoroughbred racehorse who has recently made waves in the racing world. This talented filly boasts an impressive record of six wins out of six races, including a historic win at the 2020 Japanese Oaks Race.

With her powerful strides and unwavering determination, Daring Tact has quickly become a fan favourite among horse racing enthusiasts in Japan and beyond. Her success on the track also highlights Japan’s strong breeding programs, which have produced top-level horses such as Almond Eye and Contrail.

Chrono Genesis

Chrono Genesis is a rising star in Japanese horse racing circles, known for her impressive performances on the track. This talented thoroughbred filly won her first race at the Tokyo Racecourse and has since gone on to achieve great success, including winning the prestigious Japan Cup in 2019.

But it’s not just her winning record that sets Chrono Genesis apart from other racehorses. She comes from a unique bloodline featuring both Japanese and foreign ancestors, which has helped make her racing style more versatile than some of her competitors.

Her pedigree includes notable sires such as Sunday Silence and Deep Impact, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this up-and-coming contender.

Upcoming Races To Follow In Japan

The Japan Cup, Arima Kinen and Yasuda Kinen are some of the most popular races to watch in Japan.

The Japan Cup

The Japan Cup is one of the most awaited horse races in Japan and is known as “the race of races.” This prestigious event is held annually at the Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, attracting thousands of spectators from around the world.

The event has an international reputation and hosts horses from all over the globe.

The prize money offered at the Japan Cup currently stands at JPY¥648 million (approximately USD$6 million) making it one of the richest turf races globally. Every year, bettors eagerly await this high-stakes competition to witness some of their favourite equine athletes compete for top honours.

The Arima Kinen

The Arima Kinen is one of the most prestigious horse races in Japan. It takes place on the last Sunday of December each year at Nakayama Racecourse and attracts thousands of spectators both in-person and via television broadcasts.

This race is also known as the Grand Prix, with prize money worth over 500 million yen ($4.8 million). The Arima Kinen showcases some of Japan’s best horses, including past champions such as Deep Impact, Gentildonna, and Kitasan Black.

What sets this race apart is that fans have direct influence over which horses will compete through online voting for their favourites to participate in the event.

The Yasuda Kinen

The Yasuda Kinen is one of the most prestigious horse races in Japan and it takes place annually at Tokyo Racecourse. It is a Grade 1 race featuring the country’s top horses racing on turf tracks over a distance of 1600 meters.

Over the years, several legendary horses have won this race including Symboli Rudolf, Desert King, Maurice, and Deirdre. In fact, Deirdre became the first filly/mare to win this race twice when she claimed victory in both 2017 and 2019.

Understanding Japanese Horse Racing Culture

Learn about the importance of G1 races, betting options and regulations in Japan, and famous racecourses to visit in order to fully appreciate Japanese horse racing culture.

The Importance Of G1 Races

G1 races are the most prestigious and sought-after horse racing events in Japan. Winning a G1 race is the ultimate achievement for any racehorse, as they are not only highly competitive but also offer significant prize money.

The Japan Cup, held every November at Tokyo Racecourse, is one such event. It attracts top-class horses from Europe and America who compete against some of Japan’s best thoroughbreds on turf tracks.

The Yasuda Kinen is another famous G1 race held in June at Tokyo Racecourse that showcases some of Japan’s finest sprinters.

Betting Options And Regulations In Japan

When it comes to betting on Japanese horse racing, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, horse racing is the only form of sports betting that is legal in Japan.

Bettors have various options to choose from when placing their bets with the Japan Racing Association (JRA).

It’s important to note that gambling laws in Japan are quite strict, and bettors must be over 20 years old to participate. Additionally, JRA races operate under tight regulations aimed at ensuring fairness for all participants.

For example, jockeys are assigned weights based on their previous performances so as not to give an unfair advantage to certain horses.

Famous Racecourses To Visit In Japan

Visiting racecourses in Japan is an unforgettable experience with their stunning facilities and unique atmosphere. Here are some of the most famous racecourses to visit:

Tokyo Racecourse – located in Fuchu, Tokyo, it is one of the largest horse racing venues in the world with a capacity of over 200,000 people.

Nakayama Racecourse – situated in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, it hosts two of the most prestigious races in Japan – The Nakayama Grand Jump (national steeplechase) and The Arima Kinen.

Kyoto Racecourse – a beautiful location at the foot of Higashiyama Mountain, it hosts one of Japan’s Triple Crown races, The Japanese Derby.

Hanshin Racecourse – found in Takarazuka City which is renowned for its theatre productions and hot springs; it is known for hosting The Japan Cup and other top-tiered races.

Chukyo Racecourse – lies equidistant between Nagoya and Gifu City which offers fantastic views from its grandstand during spring when cherry blossoms bloom as its background.

Sapporo Racecourse – located on the outskirts of Hokkaido and features exciting summer races while enjoying scenic views that blend together to make it more attractive to tourists coming into town.

Japanese racecourses offer not only thrilling horse racing but also an opportunity to experience Japanese culture with their exceptional food specialities such as sushi, soba noodles or even ramen that you should not miss while exploring these places.

Tips For Betting On Japanese Horse Racing

To increase your chances of winning, it is important to understand track and race conditions, research horse and jockey form, analyse betting markets and experiment with different bet types.

Grasp The Track And Race Conditions

To fully understand Japanese horse racing, it is vital to grasp the track and race conditions. The majority of races in Japan are conducted on turf tracks, with some held on dirt surfaces.

For example, if a turf track is soft or heavy, horses that prefer a softer surface will have an advantage over those who thrive on firmer ground.

Before placing any bets, be sure to study past performances and take note of any changes in weather patterns or track conditions leading up to the race.

Research Horse And Jockey Form

Knowing the current form of both the horse and jockey is essential in making informed bets on Japanese horse racing. It’s worth researching their recent performances, analysing their past records and studying how they perform in various track conditions.

A good starting point is to look at the JRA website, which provides detailed statistics about each runner and rider.

For instance, if you’re betting on the Yasuda Kinen race, which takes place at Tokyo Racecourse every June, it might be useful to know that trainer Hideaki Fujiwara has won this race four times before.

In contrast, certain jockeys are known for performing better over longer distances or even specific tracks – like Christophe Lemaire who recently guided Almond Eye to victory at Nakayama Racecourse in her last outing.

Analyse The Betting Markets

If you’re planning on betting on Japanese horse racing, it’s important to analyse the betting markets carefully. The odds can fluctuate rapidly, so keep an eye on them up until the start of the race.

It’s also worth experimenting with different bet types. In Japan, there are a variety of options such as Win, Place, Quinella and Exacta bets.

Remember to keep an eye out for upcoming races and monitor how they might affect future betting markets. This will give you a better understanding of which horses are more likely to perform well in upcoming events based on their past form and current market trends.

Experiment With Different Bet Types

To maximise your chances of winning in Japanese horse racing, it’s important to experiment with different bet types. Popular bets include Win, Place and Show, which involve betting on a horse to finish first, second or third respectively.

But there are also more complex wagers such as Quinellas (betting on two horses to finish first and second in any order), Exactas (predicting the exact finishing position of the top two horses) and Trifectas (correctly predicting the top three horses in their finishing order).

It’s worthwhile researching each type of bet before placing your wager as some can lead to bigger payoffs but come with greater risk. For instance, if you’re confident about one particular horse but unsure about the rest of the field, then a Straight Bet could be a good option for you.

Alternatively, if you want to spread your bets across multiple runners without breaking the bank account then Exotics might be worth considering.


In conclusion, if you’re a horse racing enthusiast and looking for new horses to follow, Japan is an excellent destination. The country has a rich history of horse culture with unique breeds and top-class racers.

From the famous Almond Eye to upcoming stars like Daring Tact, there’s always something exciting happening on Japanese tracks. By familiarising yourself with the betting options, analysing race conditions and form guides, you can gain insights that will give you better experiences in watching races from tracks or TV channels.


Which are the top horses to follow in Japan right now?

There are several horses performing incredibly well in Japan, including Contrail, Daring Tact, and Gran Alegria. Keep an eye on these talented horses as they continue racing in various events.

How can I keep track of upcoming horse races in Japan?

You can easily keep track of upcoming horse races in Japan by visiting websites such as Horse Racing Radar or Japan Racing Association’s official website. These platforms provide up-to-date information about all the latest events taking place around the country.

What factors should I consider when choosing a horse to follow in Japan?

When selecting a horse to follow in Japan, it is important to look at their past performance records, jockey rankings, and any injuries or illnesses that may affect their future performances. You should also analyze the track conditions and weather forecasts for each race day before placing any wagers.

Can I place bets on Japanese horse races from outside of the country?

Yes! Many online sports betting sites offer opportunities to bet on Japanese horse racing events from countries outside of Japan. However, make sure you check if there are any restrictions based on your location before placing any bets legally or illegally as per your region’s laws and regulations regarding gambling activities online within its borders.

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