Horse Racing in Japan


Want to find out more about the kind of horse racing Japan offers? Do you regularly watch a Japan horse racing live stream? Read this guide to horse racing in Japan to discover more about betting strategies!

Horse racing in Japan is very popular, with over 21,000 races taking place in the country annually. As well as flat racing and jump racing, bettors in Japan can also bet on draft racing, called Ban’ei, where horses pull sleds on sand ramps. Many of the top races are run in the autumn, winter and spring. The sport officially dates back to 1862 but has existed in some form or another for centuries prior to that.

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In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the type of horse racing Japan offers, and sketch out some details about famous Japanese horse racing venues, races and jockeys. We’ll also give you a few pointers on how to put together a strategy that you can use if you’re watching some Japan horse racing live today. Read on to find out more!

Horse Racing Japan

3 Famous Venues for Horse Racing in Japan

If you want to attend a horse race, Japan has some excellent courses. Here are three great courses at which you can watch horse racing.

  • Tokyo Racecourse: Located in the Fuchu city area of Tokyo, this racecourse was constructed in 1933, and is considered the premier venue at which to Japan horse racing live today. Major races staged at the course include are the Japan Cup, the Tokyo Yushun and the Tenno Sho. When no live races are taking place, bettors have free access to the course, which provides an off-track betting facility.
  • Kyoto Racecourse: Western Japan’s premier horse racing venue was built in 1924, and hosts five major horse racing events each year. Major race held at the venue include the Kikuka Sho, the Mile Championship, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Shuka Sho.
  • Nakayama Racecourse: Anyone keen on the horse racing game in Japan should make sure they take a trip to Nakayama Racecourse. There are two racetracks on the site, and these host race meetings alternately. Top races staged at the racecourse include the Satsuki Sho, the Sprinters Stakes, the Nakayama Grand Jump and the Nakayama Daishogai.

3 Iconic Japanese Horse Races

Now we’ll look at some of the types of horse races Japan provides to punters. Here are three of the most popular horse races that take place in the Land of the Rising Sun.

  • Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby): This Grade 1 flat race is a highlight of the type of horse racing Japan offers. It takes place in late May or early June each year, over a 2.4km course. First run in 1932, it is generally viewed as the Japanese equivalent of the UK’s Epsom Derby.
  • Nakayama Grand Jump: This race is Japan’s top jump race, and it is staged in April annually at Nakayama Racecourse. Rather than being run over a long course, as jumps races in other countries are, the Grand Jump is run over a 4.25km course that twists and turns inside the conventional racing ovals at the course.
  • Tokyo Daishōten: If you’re looking for the kind of great horse race Japan offers, then the Tokyo Daishōten could be just what you’re looking for. Run on a dirt track over two kilometres, famous Japanese horses such as Gold Allure have triumphed in it, but Omega Perfume holds the record of four consecutive wins.

3 Famous Japanese Jockeys

While it is not necessarily a country like Ireland or Australia that has a strong association with horse racing in the wider world, horse racing in Japan has produced some great jockeys. Here are three of them.

  • Yutaka Take: In 2021, Yutaka Take was confirmed as the highest-earning jockey of all time in the world, having, in March of that year, collected career winnings of US$796.1 million. Born in Kyoto, Take’s career began in 1987, and he holds a collection of horse racing records for Japan. One of these records is for the most victories in a year with 212.
  • Yoshitomi Shibata: Born in 1966 in Tōhoku Yoshitomi Shibata comes from a horse racing family. His uncle Masato Shibata was also a successful jockey. He has ridden over 2,300 winners from almost 21,700 total career races.
  • Kousei Miura: Kousei Miura was born in Tokyo in 1989 and is represented by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), one of two bodies that run the sport in Japan. In 2008 Kousei Miura won the JRA Award for Newcomer Jockey with the Most Victories. He followed up this achievement in 2014 when he received the Hokkaido Horse Racing Press Club Award.

Betting Strategy for Horse Racing in Japan

As with betting on horse racing in any country, if you want to be successful you need to have a good knowledge of the sport in Japan. Knowing as much as possible about the recent form and historical performances of the top horses, jockeys and trainers who work in horse racing in Japan is the block on which you build betting success.

In addition to following the form of horses and jockeys, it is also a good idea to check out which types of surfaces on which certain horses do well. It is also important to note that jumps racing does not have the same status in Japan as it does in other countries. All jump racing horses in Japan have started their careers as flat racers. Remember this next time you are considering the Sportsbet horse racing odds. Of course, if you’re not located in Japan, a horse racing live stream makes betting significantly simpler.


Horse racing in Japan has a long history, and also possess some cultural quirks like its prioritisation of flat racing over jump racing. This country certainly generates plenty of excitement in the horse racing game. Japan has some top tracks, iconic racecourses, and has produced some world-class jockeys too. Next time you are watching a Japan horse racing live stream, you are guaranteed some top-quality horse racing entertainment.

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