Day at the Races
Racing fans went on an exclusive trip to Chukyo Racecourse in Nagoya to soak up the fun and excitement at the Takamatsunomiya Kinen
The Epsom and Irish Derbies in Europe, the Melbourne Cup in Australia, and the Kentucky Derby in the US are some examples of group horse racing at the highest level. The Takamatsunomiya Kinen in Japan, at Nagoya’s Chukyo Racecourse has, in particular, become one of the most exciting ones in recent years because its races are so hard to predict. Horses trained outside Japan have been eligible to run in the race since 2001, and this year’s event— the 46th running—was staged as a leg of the prestigious Global Sprint Challenge, with total prize money of approximately HK$14 million. It is the second leg of the series, preceded by the Lightning Stakes and, from 2012, followed by the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Another milestone happened in 2015, when a horse named Aerovelocity became the first horse, trained in Hong Kong, to win the race.
It was with a sense of heightened anticipation that the Racing Club members joined a tour to Japan in March 2016 for this Grade 1 flat horse race for thoroughbreds at the Chukyo Racecourse in Nagoya. When the members arrived at Chukyo Racecourse, they reacted with delight at the warm welcome organised by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) that featured Turfy—the JRA mascot. The group soon settled into their private box to watch the race and enjoy the exciting, carnival-like atmosphere of the racecourse.
In addition, members were able to visit the Ritto Training Centre, where JRA’S 2,000 racehorses are trained, and were taken on a tour by the Deputy Manager of General Affairs. The group viewed the centre’s seven training courses, including the new polytrack and the tracks lined with turf or woodchip. Members particularly enjoyed stepping onto the woodchip course to get a feel for its texture.
The itinerary included a tour of Wins Nagoya, one of the JRA’S off-course betting facilities. Members got to experience Japanese horse racing through the six storeys, which feature the latest betting machines and allow racing fans to enjoy the excitement without being at the racecourse.
Apart from the racing, the group enjoyed some quality leisure time. They took in the charms of the hot springs, framed by the beautiful scenery of Lake Biwa, and was pleasantly surprised by snow when they visited Biwako Valley—with the members playing in the snow and taking lots of pictures of the winter wonderland. The group also went on a brewery tour at the Kirin Beer Factory, which offered a glimpse into the brewing facilities and some beer-tasting; and sat down for an exquisite meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant in a traditional Japanese inn.
The overseas racing tour provided the opportunity for members to expand their racing knowledge and be part of a community of likeminded racing enthusiasts with friendships that go well beyond the racetrack, with many meeting up for social gatherings after the tour.