Japanese Jump Racing Guide (English)

Jump Racing is only held by JRA, not NAR.

  There are two horse racing organizations in Japan, JRA (Japan Racing Association) and NAR (National Association of Racing). Major expensive races such as Japanese Derby (G1) and Japan Cup (G1) are held by JRA while NAR races attract local popularity. Jump racing is conducted only by JRA, not by NAR. Only JRA horses and jockeys run over fences. Transferred horses from NAR to JRA can also be a contender for jumps.


Classification is Only Maiden and Open Jump racing.

  All Japanese jumps are categorized as "Jump Racing" together, not hurdles or steeplechase.  Cross Country is not established in Japanese horse racing history. Indeed, there is a wide variety of obstacles between racecourse; Nakayama is relatively tough and has huge fences while Nigata and Chukyo have only hurdles on the flat course.

  Besides, Novice, which is a popular class in other jump racing countries, are not used in Japanese Jumps. No rating classification, jockey limitation such as Hunters' Chase or conditional jockeys' race, and prize money restriction. There are no mares' or juvenile races.

  Taken together, there are only two classes in Japanese Jump Racing; Maiden, horses without a victory over fences, and Open-class, all the other horses. All principle races are categorized as "Open-class".


Horses in flat campaign starts a new carrier over fences.  

  Similar to Australia and New Zealand, all Japanese horses start their career on flat and subsequently start their jumping campaign. Jump training is often utilized for flat horses, and sometimes their aptitude for jump racing are discovered during their daily training. Colts run over fences without castration thus jump horses can become a stallion (ex. Gokai). Hugely different from other jump racing countries, it gives racing fans a big dream for next-generation, doesn't it? Although there are no National Hunt stallions such as Martaline or Oscar in Japan.

  Horses with big flat success sometimes run over fences. There are 11 horses with victories of grade races both on flat and over fences.

  Compared with other jump racing countries, Japanese jump horses are relatively young and have a shorter career. Mares also run jump races but their big success is relatively rare.


Obstacles are relatively easy but need plenty of flat speed.

  Obstacles in Japan are basically hedge or bull finch. There is no bank, English-type fence, ditch, timber rail... popular in other jump racing countries. The biggest hedge and bull finch are at Nakayama Racecourse, 1.6 m height and 2.4m width, and 1.6 m height and 2.05 m width, respectively, used twice at Nakayama Grand Jump (JG1) and Nakayama Dai-Shogai (JG1) in a year.

  Fences in Japan are relatively lower than those in Europa. However, Japanese Jumps needs plenty of flat speed because of some reasons (see below). Flat speed over hurdles on firm ground is the most important talent in Japanese Jump Racing. Jump racing is usually tough, but Japanese jumps are much more speedy and can offer another excitement different from other jump racing countries.

  There are some unique obstacles. Nakayama racecourse has unique valleys called banquet (different from banquette irlandaise in France!), maximum depth 5.3 m and maximum length 113 m. No national hunt racecourse have such unique testing in the world. (Sterrebeek in Belgium had similar testing but the racecourse itself has gone by) Green Wall, made by artificial material and similar to small bull finch, is at Tokyo, Hanshin, and Fukushima Racecourse. It is stronger and more difficult to push than other normal bull finches (but it can be pushed away, different from English-type chase). Water jump with the hedge is popular but its width is much smaller than that in Europa.


The ground is fast and Weights are lower compared with other jump racing.

  The ground is usually good all the year over because of the  great effort of JRA to improve turf condition (not relatively firm but much faster than it is in Europa). Weights are usually 58-63kg. These unique conditions result in thrilling and speedy races, while oversea challengers have been needed specific suitability for these conditions. Especially, European challengers had spent difficult time against these differences but Blackstairmountain (IRE) with Irish champion jockey Ruby Walsh finally won Nakayama Grand Jump (JG1) in 2013.