Conduct of Racing

As of January 2021

1. Declaration to Run

Trainers are required to declare their horses to run at the prescribed time for each race. It is essential that any special equipment to be carried by the horse is also declared on the declaration form. If a horse is to run with blinkers, a declaration that it is to do so must be made. When a horse has been declared to run with blinkers, they shall be worn, and when no declaration of blinkers, they must not be worn by the horse during the race.

Some equipment may not be allowed to be used without prior permission and therefore, please contact JRA stewards in advance.

2. Scratches

Scratches in JRA racing, which are solely based on the opinion of the Owner or Trainer, for reasons of weather, or change in track conditions are not permitted on or after the deadline for declaration.

Scratches are only possible after receiving the approval of the stewards of the meeting through the submission of a document certifying to any accident to, or disease of the horse.

3. Licensing

Visiting Trainers and Jockeys are required to attend a licensing interview with the JRA stewards for the issuance of their license upon his/her arrival. All trainers and jockeys who are granted a license agree to be bound by the JRA Rules of Racing.

4. Lead Ponies and Assistant Starters (Gate Crews)

Lead ponies are not used and cannot be brought into Japan. JRA does not have any assistant starters situated inside the starting gate stall in order to keep the horse in check.

5. Starting Gate Loading Procedures

All JRA races use a Starting Gate System. The Starting Gate is a movable set of stalls with gates that open simultaneously at the start of the race. Prior to running in races conducted by the JRA, only horses which passed a gate test prior to the final declaration are able to run in the race.

During the gate test, the starter will check the necessary loading procedures for a minimum twice, and a horse needs to be approved by the starter as being capable of loading, standing still and leaving (jumping out of) the stalls. Trainers are required to inform the JRA after the preliminary nomination if the horse has any unruly or specific behavior at the start. However, no special loading request will be permitted apart from request to load the horse first for efficient loading.

Loading will take place under the direction of the starters. As a general rule, horses with odd numbers in the draw will be loaded first, followed by those with even numbers, and the horse with the highest number in the draw will be loaded last no matter whether the number is odd or even. This procedure is taken for the safety of horses and people concerned, for speedy and efficient loading to start the race.

However, horses with blindfolds or those horses with bad records at loading may be loaded first no matter whether the draw is odd or even. Should there be an unruly horse with the highest number, the starter may decide to load the horse with the second highest number draw last.

6. Matters to be noted in Relation to Jockeys

  1. a)The Jockeys to ride in the JRA races must enter and stay in the Jockey’s Quarter at the racecourse designated by the JRA by 9:00 PM on the previous day of that race meeting day. (For the Japan Cup, the Jockeys must stay at accommodation facilities designated by the JRA from 9:00 PM on the previous day of the race.) This is done to uphold the integrity of racing.
  2. b)A Jockey must ride in a race carrying the officially announced weight. The safety vest is mandatory and 1.0 kg allowance will be applicable. For example, if the announced weight is 57.0 kg, the Jockey has to ride the horse at the weight of 58.0 kg.
  3. c)A jockey must ride in a race with the safety vest and helmet approved by the Steward of the Meeting.
  4. d)The JRA may require the random selection of several Jockeys on race day to take and pass a urine test for prohibited substances (stimulant drugs, marijuana, narcotics, psychotropic drugs, β2 stimulant, β2 blocker and diuretics etc.) or a breath test for alcohol.
  5. e)Only padded whips whose pad is longer than 17cm and width is no fewer than 2cm nor more than 4cm can be used in Race. Also a whip which is 77 cm (approximately 30 inches) or longer is prohibited from being used in races.

7. Insurance

  1. a)JRA will not be responsible for horse insurance and connections are advised to make their own insurance arrangements for horse.
  2. b)All visiting horse connections (Owners, Trainers, Assistant Trainers, Travelling Head Lads, Exercise Riders and Grooms) are strongly recommended to arrange their own insurance to cover travel, work, non-work injury and illness.
  3. c)All visiting jockeys will be covered by the JRA’s accident compensation policy during under the control of the JRA.

8. Other Pertinent Information

When a horse bleeds in a race, the JRA Rules of Racing prohibits the horse from racing in the JRA races for one month for the first offence.