2015 World All-Star Jockeys - JRA puts new spin on jockey gala
The World Super Jockeys Series, JRA’s international jockey event begun in 1987, has long been an exciting complement to autumn’s colorful racing with its traditional stage at Hanshin and, more recently, Tokyo Racecourse. From this year, however, the heat will be on in more ways than one, as the world’s best vie with Japan’s best at Sapporo Racecourse in the dog days of summer.
The newly rechristened World All-Star Jockeys will take place on Aug. 29 and 30, the next-to-last weekend of racing at the northern venue. Fourteen riders comprising two teams will fight it out in four races over turf. One team will be comprised of five riders from overseas joining forces with two NAR jocks, including one local star from Hokkaido. The other team will be made up of seven JRA riders.
The first two legs of the WASJ will be the ninth and 11th races on the Saturday card at Sapporo – a 2,600-meter event for 3-year-olds and up in the earning 5 million yen or less class and a 2,000-meter race for the same age in the earning 16-million or less class.
Sunday’s 10th and 12th races make up the final legs with a sprint over 1,200 meters for 3-year-olds and up in the earning 10 million yen or less class and an 1,800-meter for the same age and class as the competition’s final race.
Details have yet to be finalized, but the JRA team is expected to include this year’s Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Mirco Demuro, 2014 Most Valuable Jockey Keita Tosaki, and the two winningest jockeys (as calculated from year begin through July 26), one from the eastern training center of Miho, the other from the western center of Ritto.
Riders will have Japanese mounts chosen for them at random and will win points according to finishing order, with 20 points for a win down to 1 point for 11th place on down. Points will be tallied on both an individual and team basis and the jockey with the most points will be awarded a trophy and 3 million yen. The runnerup receives 2 million yen and the third-place finisher 1 million. Prizes will also go to the top-scoring team.
The past 28 versions of the jockey championship have seen visitors from overseas come out on top 12 times, including a tie in 2004, and a near streak from 2006 to 2013 broken only by Norihiro Yokoyama’s win in 2009 for Miho. The riders from abroad also swept the top three spots in two of those years.
The past five years have seen Ryan Moore win for England in 2010, followed by John Murtagh for Ireland the year after. Zachary Purton reigned supreme for Hong Kong in 2012 and Richard Hughes for England in 2013. Last year, top rider was the Ritto-based Suguru Hamanaka. NAR riders have been well represented in the winner’s circle as well, with four riders taking top tally in the past – Funabashi’s Takayuki Ishizaki in 1994, Shoichi Kawahara of Kasamatsu in 1997, Katsuya Sameshima from Saga in 2001, and Yasunari Iwata riding as representative of Hyogo in 2005.
The Sapporo track is just over a mile around, largely flat, with races run to the right and a homestretch of 266 meters.
Note: More details will be announced on August 12, 2015.