2017 JRA Awards

2017 JRA Award



Kitasan Black(JPN)


Danon Premium(JPN)


Lucky Lilac(JPN)


Rey de Oro(JPN)


Soul StirringJPN)




Red Falx(JPN)


Gold Dream(JPN)


Oju Chosan (JPN)



Yasutoshi Ikee


Mitsumasa Nakauchida


Noriyuki Hori


Christophe Lemaire


Mirco Demuro


Shinichi Ishigami

Kitasan Black Repeats as Horse of the Year

Kitasan Black
at 2017 Arima Kinen

Kitasan Black drew 287 out of 290 votes to win The Japan Racing Association’s (JRA) Horse of the Year award again with another outstanding season that included victories in the Osaka Hai, the Tenno Sho (Spring), the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and the Arima Kinen. He becomes the ninth horse in JRA history, the first since Gentildonna (2012, 2014) to win two Horse of the Year titles and the seventh to win consecutively—the last being Vodka in 2008 and 2009. The annual JRA Awards, which will be handed out in a ceremony at Prince Park Tower Tokyo on Monday, January 29, recognize horses, trainers, jockeys, and other individuals and organizations for outstanding performances or achievements in the thoroughbred racing season.

Kitasan Black was also named Best Older Colt or Horse for the consecutive year with full votes. Best Two-Year-Old Filly Lucky Lilac was the only other unanimous choice while Best Three-Year-Old Colt Rey de Oro and Best Steeplechase Horse Oju Chosan were each just one vote short. Best Two-Year-Old Colt Danon Premium, Best Sprinter or Miler Red Falx and Best Dirt Horse Gold Dream also collected more than 90% of 290 maximum votes. Vivlos won the Best Older Filly or Mare title with 194 votes while Soul Stirring won the Best Three-Year-Old Filly with 162, 42 votes over the runner-up.

Yasutoshi Ikee

JRA Best Trainer Awards are presented for Races Won, Winning Average, Money Earned and Training Technique based on JRA races and designated NAR and overseas races. Yasutoshi Ikee won his second Best Trainer title for Races Won and fourth for Money Earned. Mitsumasa Nakauchida won his first JRA Award title for Winning Average since opening his yard in 2014. Noriyuki Hori won his second and consecutive title for Training Technique.

Christophe Lemaire

Best Jockey Awards are presented for Races Won, Money Earned, Winning Average, Steeplechase and Newcomer based on accomplishments in JRA races alone. Christophe Lemaire claimed his first titles for Races Won and Most Valuable Jockey, the latter determined by points earned for wins, earnings, winning average and rides in JRA, designated-NAR and overseas races combined. The French native also won his second consecutive title for Money Earned. Mirco Demuro won the title for Winning Average while Shinichi Ishigami turned in another stellar season to stamp his claim as the Best Steeplechase Jockey for the second consecutive year. No one was eligible for the Best Jockey (Newcomer) title because no jockey who debuted in 2017 was able to score the required minimum 30 wins.

The Equine Culture Award was presented to Tamsin Pickeral (author), Astrid Harrisson (photographer), Fumi Kawagishi (translator) and X-Knowledge Co., Ltd. (publisher) for their pictorial book “Sekai de Ichiban Utsukushii Uma no Zukan” (The Majesty of the Horse: An Illustrated History).

  • Notes:All information, including ages and race performances, are as of December 31, 2017, unless otherwise indicated. Wins and earnings include JRA-designated local public races under the National Association of Racing (NAR; local public racing) and overseas starts, except for jockeys. The Season Performances chart shows the horse’s positions in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and final corners, from left to right. “L3F” and “[Horse]” indicate time over the last 3 furlongs (600m) and the horse’s weight, respectively.


Kitasan Black(JPN)

Video (Kitasan Black)

Arima Kinen (Grand Prix) (G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 5 (March 10, 2012)
Sex / Color Horse/ Bay
Sire Black Tide
Dam (Sire of Dam) Sugar Heart (Sakura Bakushin O)
Owner Ono Shoji
Breeder Yanagawa Bokujo
Trainer Hisashi Shimizu
Jockey Yutaka Take
Season Record / Earnings 6 starts, 4 wins, 1 third / ¥ 809,340,000
Career Record / Earnings 20 starts, 12 wins, 2 seconds, 4 thirds / ¥ 1,876,843,000
Principal Wins in 2017

Kitasan Black scored four JRA-G1 victories during 2017 and capped off his stellar racing career with his seventh G1 victory in the Arima Kinen, securing his second consecutive title for both Horse of the Year and Best Older Colt or Horse. He ties the record of most career JRA-G1 victories with Symboli Rudolf, T.M. Opera O, Deep Impact and Vodka while surpassing T.M. Opera O in career earnings with 1,876,843,000 yen. The son of Black Tide is now retired from racing and stands for stud at Shadai Stallion Station.

He won three in a row from his career debut as a three-year-old, including his first grade-race victory, to qualify for the Triple Crown Classics. While still green in the first two legs of the triple, he progressed well during the summer break to win his fall debut, the St. Lite Kinen, and demonstrated both speed and stamina in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) for his first G1 title. Despite a long hard-fought season, he capped off his three-year-old campaign with a third against older G1-caliber runners in the Arima Kinen.

He kicked off his four-year-old campaign with a close runner-up finish in the Sankei Osaka Hai and validated his Kikuka Sho win as a first-class stayer for his second G1 victory in the following Tenno Sho (Spring) before a neck-nose third in the Takarazuka Kinen. In his first Japan Cup challenge, after coming off a win in his fall debut, the Kyoto Daishoten, the race favorite made for a convincing 2-1/2 length victory. He then capped off the season with a strong runner-up effort in the Arima Kinen, helping him to capture his first JRA Awards as the 2016 Horse of the Year Title and Best Older Colt or Horse.

He started his 2017 campaign with a 3/4-length victory in the Osaka Hai, a newly upgraded G1 event, and followed it with a dominating performance for a second consecutive victory in the Tenno Sho (Spring), where he renewed the race record by 0.9 second. He turned in a disappointing ninth in the Takarazuka Kinen but bounced back in his fall debut to claim the Tenno Sho (Autumn), becoming the fifth horse to capture the Tenno Sho double in the same year. While unsuccessful in defending his Japan Cup title, finishing third, the reigning Horse of the Year was in control throughout the Arima Kinen and never in serious threat as he cleared the wire by a comfortable margin of 1-1/2 lengths.
2017 Season Performances of Kitasan Black


Danon Premium(JPN)

Video (Danon Premium)

Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
(G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 2 (April 3, 2015)
Sex / Color Colt / Dark Bay or Brown
Sire Deep Impact
Dam (Sire of Dam) Indiana Gal (Intikhab)
Owner Danox Co., Ltd.
Breeder K. I. Farm
Trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida
Jockey Yuga Kawada
Season Record / Earnings 3 starts, 3 wins / ¥ 111,799,000
Principal Win in 2017

Danon Premium captured this year’s Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes in 1:33.3, a race record last renewed back in 2015. Undefeated in all three career starts, he has been able to find another gear each time and use his outstanding speed to chase the pace close up early and clear the wire by a comfortable margin.

The Deep Impact colt showed potential in his career debut in June over 1,800 meters, which he won by an overwhelming four-length margin. In October, he landed his first grade-race challenge, the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup, where he renewed the 1,600-meter turf-course record (two-year-olds) while outrunning the race favorite by 1-3/4 lengths. Sent to post as the race favorite in his next start, the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, Danon Premium broke sharply from an inside draw and stalked the leaders in third while saving ground along the rails. Entering the stretch, he immediately grabbed the spotlight and pulled away with a fastest finish, covering the last three furlongs in 33.6 seconds. His win by a margin of 3-1/2 lengths tied a record set back in 1993 by Narita Brian, who went on to become a Triple Crown winner in his following season.

Danon Premium’s jockey Yuga Kawada has high hopes for the colt’s 2018 season, which will kick off with the Yayoi Sho (G2, 2,000m) on March 4 and then without a doubt will focus on the Triple Crown for three-year-olds.
2017 Season Performances of Danon Premium


Lucky Lilac(JPN)

Video (Lucky Lilac)

Hanshin Juvenile Fillies
(G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 2 (April 3, 2015)
Sex / Color Filly / Chestnut
Sire Orfevre
Dam (Sire of Dam) Lilacs and Lace (Flower Alley)
Owner Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder Northern Racing
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga
Jockey Syu Ishibashi
Season Record / Earnings 3 starts, 3 wins / ¥ 102,820,000
Principal Win in 2017

Lucky Lilac capped off a perfect two-year-old season with her first G1 title in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies to become the 2017 champion two-year-old filly. The win also crowned her as the inaugural G1 winner in the first crop of legendary Orfevre, a winner of six G1 titles in Japan and a two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up (2012 and ‘13).

Debuting in August, the Orfevre filly broke her maiden with a convincing 1-1/2-length victory after chasing the pace in fifth position. Two months later she scored her second win, this time in the graded Artemis Stakes, where she scored the fastest finish from racing close up in around fourth or fifth position to win by 3/4 length.

Sent to post second favorite in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, Lucky Lilac struggled to find space early and then ran conservatively in mid-field before making her move to chase Lily Noble into the stretch. The chestnut filly ran powerfully down the lane once her path ahead cleared, catching the eventual runner-up 100 meters out for a 3/4-length victory thanks to a time-tied fastest last-three-furlong drive.

Her three-year-old campaign in which she will aim for her first classic title in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) on April 8 will begin with the Tulip Sho (G2, 1,600m) on March 3.
2017 Season Performances of Lucky Lilac


Rey de Oro(JPN)

Video (Rey de Oro)

Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 3 (February 5, 2014)
Sex / Color Colt / Bay
Sire King Kamehameha
Dam (Sire of Dam) La Dorada (Symboli Kris S)
Owner U. Carrot Farm
Breeder Northern Racing
Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa
Jockey Christophe Lemaire
Season Record / Earnings 4 starts, 2 wins, 1 second / ¥ 414,052,000
Career Record / Earnings 7 starts, 5 wins, 1 second / ¥ 498,822,000
Principal Wins in 2017

Rey de Oro highlighted his three-year-old campaign with a victory in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in late May. After another win in his fall debut, the Kobe Shimbun Hai, the three-year-old opted out of the last leg of the Triple Crown to face top older G1 rivals in the Japan Cup. Entered second favorite, he raced mid-field before unleashing an impressive late charge to tie for fastest over the last three-furlongs and place second at the wire, behind by more than a length but to no less than 2016 Horse of the Year Kitasan Black.

Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, as a two-year-old Rey de Oro won all three of his starts by comfortable margins, including his first graded victory in the yearend Hopeful Stakes. Tagged as a serious candidate for the three-year-old classics, Rey de Oro was forced to skip the trial race and head straight to the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) due to a delay in conditioning, finishing fifth in his G1 debut.

Picking up his form in the following Tokyo Yushun where he was posted second favorite, the King Kamehameha colt was rated toward the rear but he took advantage of a slow pace to make an early move along the backstretch, advanced to second and then continued accelerating after taking the lead 200 meters out, giving him his first G1 victory and Fujisawa his first Derby title.

He will kick off his 2018 campaign with the Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) on February 11 after which, depending on the result of race, he may head for Dubai for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m) on March 31.
2017 Season Performances of Rey de Oro


Soul Stirring(JPN)

Video (Soul Stirring)

Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 3 (February 13, 2014)
Sex / Color Filly / Dark Bay or Brown
Sire Frankel
Dam (Sire of Dam) Stacelita (Monsun)
Owner Shadai Race Horse Co., Ltd.
Breeder Shadai Farm
Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa
Jockey Christophe Lemaire
Season Record / Earnings 6 starts, 2 wins, 1 third / ¥ 187,680,000
Career Record / Earnings 9 starts, 5 wins, 1 third / ¥ 277,178,000
Principal Wins in 2017

Soul Stirring continued with another stellar season following 2016, a year in which the Frankel filly gave her sire his first post-retirement G1 victory by claiming the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies to be named Best Two-Year-Old Filly. This season, the talented filly validated her champion title with a win in the three-year-old classic title, the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks). In the fall, when tested against a mixed field of top G1 runners, she was short of the money but proved well up to the competition and showed much potential for her four-year-old season.

Debuting in July 2016, Soul Stirring won her first career start to live up to expectations as one of Frankel’s first crop and out of multiple-G1 winner Stacelita. She then proceeded to win the Ivy Stakes by 1-3/4-length margin to Persian Knight, the subsequent Mile Championship victor. Her G1 title in the following Hanshin Juvenile Fillies earned her the JRA’s Best Two-Year-Old Filly title.

After extending her winning streak to four in her three-year-old kick-off, the Tulip Sho, she was sent to post as the heavy favorite in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas). Slow to adapt to her experience in softer goings, she was defeated to third for the first time. But Soul Stirring followed this with a dominating performance in the Yushun Himba, where she was positioned nicely among the leaders and drew away to a comfortable victory. In her fall challenges, however, she ran into bad luck—first by tiring after making the pace in the Mainichi Okan, then having to plough her way over testing ground in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and finally, less than a month after this hectic effort, she faced an international field of G1-level runners in the Japan Cup. Nevertheless, the powerful filly demonstrated her power in adapting well to various goings and exhibiting her outstanding stretch run.

She will aim for the Victoria Mile (G1, 1,600m) on May 13 as her target for the spring season prior to which she will be running in the Hanshin Himba Stakes (G2, 1,600m) on April 7. Depending on her progress, an overseas challenge such as the Royal Ascot or the Breeders’ Cup may be included in her summer and fall program.
2017 Season Performances of Soul Stirring



Video (Vivlos)

Dubai Turf (G1)


Age (Foaling) 4 (April 9, 2013)
Sex / Color Filly / Black
Sire Deep Impact
Dam (Sire of Dam) Halwa Sweet (Machiavellian)
Owner Kazuhiro Sasaki
Breeder Northern Racing
Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi
Jockey Joao Moreira
Season Record / Earnings 4 starts, 1 win, 1 second / ¥ 459,228,000
Career Record / Earnings 11 starts, 4 wins, 3 seconds / ¥ 584,534,000
Principal Win in 2017

The 2016 Shuka Sho winner, Vivlos landed her second G1 victory by going overseas to win the 2017 Dubai Turf against a mixed field of G1 turf runners. Running around tenth, she accelerated with a fine turn of speed after angling out from a ground-saving trip along the rails, and then snatched the lead with 50 meters to go for a 1/2-length victory. A full sister to two-time Victoria Mile winner Verxina and also from the same mare as 2017 Japan Cup champion Cheval Grand, the superbly bred Vivlos is hoped to return to Dubai for a consecutive victory in the Dubai Turf prior to which she will follow the same program as in 2017 and run in the Nakayama Kinen (G2, 1,800m) on February 25 as a prep race.

After a win and a second out of two starts as a two-year-old, Vivlos did not make it into the first two legs of the three-year-old fillies’ classics at the grade-race level, finishing 12th in the first two starts of her 2016 campaign. But then a win in July and a runner-up effort in the Shion Stakes in September qualified her for the last leg of the fillies triple, the Shuka Sho. Sent to post third choice, the Deep Impact filly showed her potential as a first-class middle-distance runner with plenty of stamina by making an early move from halfway, turning wide into the stretch, mowing down her rivals and pinning the leader in the last strides for her first G1 title.

Her 2017 season kicked off with a fifth in the Nakayama Kinen followed by her triumph in Dubai. Vivlos was given a sixth-month break prior to her fall debut in the Fuchu Himba Stakes, where she met traffic in the closing stages and just managed to make up the loss to finish second. She was race favorite in her only start after that, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but was unable to show her finishing drive despite remaining in contention in fifth.
2017 Season Performances of Vivlos


Red Falx(JPN)

Video (Red Falx)

Sprinters Stakes (G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 6 (April 12, 2011)
Sex / Color Horse / Gray
Sire Swept Overboard
Dam (Sire of Dam) Vermouth (Sunday Silence)
Owner Tokyo Horse Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder Shadai Farm
Trainer Tomohito Ozeki
Jockey Mirco Demuro
Season Record / Earnings 5 starts, 2 wins, 2 thirds / ¥ 213,432,000
Career Record / Earnings 24 starts, 10 wins, 2 seconds, 3 thirds / ¥ 459,150,000
Principal Win in 2017

Red Falx successfully defended his Sprinters Stakes title to become the third horse in JRA history to win back-to-back titles in this race, after Sakura Bakushin O (1992-93) and Lord Kanaloa (2012-13). Third in the spring version of the JRA-sprint G1, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, the son of Swept Overboard then competed strongly when stepping up to a mile in the Yasuda Kinen, finishing just 0.1 second behind the winner in third.

Raced twice as a two-year-old, Red Falx broke his maiden in his three-year-old debut and raced on both dirt and turf thereafter. In the first half of his five-year-old season he registered two wins—one at 1,200 meters and another at 1,400—out of seven starts on turf in addition to 4-1-1 out of nine dirt starts between 1,200 and 1,400 meters.

After a disappointing 10th-place finish on dirt in the Negishi Stakes earlier in the season, in July 2016 he scored his first grade-race victory on turf in the CBC Sho, his second challenge at grade-race level. Just three months later, he became a G1 winner in the 2016 Sprinters Stakes. Entered the third favorite, he traveled wide in mid-field and exerted a powerful late charge to out-finish Mikki Isle by a head. He concluded the season with a disappointing 12th in the Hong Kong Sprint but regained his form in 2017 to register two wins and two thirds out of five starts.

His 2018 season will begin with the Hankyu Hai (G3, 1,400m) on February 25 then the Takamatsunomiya Kinen on March 25 during the spring after which he will prepare to accomplish an unprecedented feat of a third consecutive Sprinter Stakes victory on September 30.
2017 Season Performances of Red Falx


Gold Dream(JPN)

Video (Gold Dream)

February Stakes (G1 - English)


Age (Foaling) 4 (April 19, 2013)
Sex / Color Colt / Bay
Sire Gold Allure
Dam (Sire of Dam) Mon Vert (French Deputy)
Owner Katsumi Yoshida
Breeder Northern Farm
Trainer Osamu Hirata
Jockey Mirco Demuro
Season Record / Earnings 5 starts, 2 wins / ¥ 203,138,000
Career Record / Earnings 13 starts, 6 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third / ¥ 302,134,000
Principal Wins in 2017

Gold Dream became only the third horse to capture JRA’s two dirt G1 races in the same season in during 2017, following Wing Arrow in 2000 and Transcend in 2011. He registered his first G1 title in his kick-off start in the February Stakes but was unsuccessful in the following three starts. Undeterred, the son of Gold Allure bounced back in the Champions Cup, where he was entered eighth favorite under Ryan Moore and produced an impressive late charge after racing near the rear to nail the leaders for a neck victory.

Gold Dream won his only start as a two-year-old, racing exclusively on dirt that year. In his three-year-old season, he continued to utilize his strong late charge to extend his winning streak to three in the Hyacinth Stakes against a quality field. Finishing second in the following Hyogo Championship, he promptly captured his first graded title in the Unicorn Stakes.

He was posted race favorite in the following Japan Dirt Derby but was unable to launch a serious threat, finishing 5-3/4 lengths behind the winner in third. Fresh out of a four-month break, the bay landed a runner-up effort in his first challenge against older horses in the Musashino Stakes, crossing the wire 1-1/4 lengths behind Tagano Tonnerre, who set a track record. He finished a disappointing 12th as second pick in the following Champions Cup.

Gold Dream will attempt to defend his February Stakes title and then possibly make another Dubai World Cup challenge after finishing 14th last year.
2017 Season Performances of Gold Dream


Oju Chosan(JPN)

Video (Oju Chosan)

Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1)


Age (Foaling) 6 (April 3, 2011)
Sex / Color Horse / Bay
Sire Stay Gold
Dam (Sire of Dam) Shadow Silhouette (Symboli Kris S)
Owner Chosan Co., Ltd.
Breeder Naoyoshi Nagayama
Trainer Shoichiro Wada
Jockey Shinichi Ishigami
Season Record / Earnings 4 starts, 4 wins / ¥ 215,729,000 (steeplechases only)
Career Record / Earnings 19 starts, 11 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third / ¥ 466,653,000 (steeplechases only)
Principal Wins in 2017

Oju Chosan continued to dominate steeplechase racing in 2017 with four wins in as many starts, including both J-G1 titles for the second successive year, making him JRA’s undisputed Best Steeplechase Horse for the second year running. Despite sustaining a chip fracture in his right pastern following a 3-1/2-length victory in the Nakayama Grand Jump in April, the six-year-old immediately returned to form in winning his comeback start in October. In the year-end Nakayama Daishogai, he shortened the record set by Symboli Montreux in 1991 by 1.1 seconds after a fierce duel with 2015 champion steeplechaser Up to Date. He also marked his unprecedented fourth consecutive J-G1 victory and eighth successive jump graded win.
Winless in two starts on the flat as a two-year-old, the son of Stay Gold was given a year break to restart his racing career over obstacles. He was last in a field of 14 in his jump race debut, but after changing hands to current trainer Shoichiro Wada he turned in a runner-up effort in January 2015 and then two consecutive wins two months later. Progressing well throughout the season, he finished fourth in his first grade-race challenge, the 2015 Tokyo Jump Stakes under Shinichi Ishigami, who has ridden in all his starts since. The pair added another win prior to their first J-G1 challenge, the 2015 Nakayama Daishogai, where the bay raced far behind in 12th but showed a good change of speed to improve to sixth at the wire.
Coming off a runner-up effort in March 2016, Oju Chosan was positioned in the first four as the second favorite in the Nakayama Grand Jump, then used his exceptional finishing speed to wear down the pace setter and fly past the leader in the last 100 meters to win by 3-1/2 lengths for his first title at the highest level. He then extended his winning streak to four in the Nakayama Daishogai to become only the second horse besides Up to Date in 2015 to claim both J-G1 titles in the same year, helping to make him the unanimous choice for Best Steeplechase Horse of 2016.

Oju Chosan continues to attract high expectations as he points to his seven-year-old season, which his trainer has announced will start with the Hanshin Spring Jump on March 10 and then a third consecutive Nakayama Grand Jump on April 14, where a title would tie him with Karasi (2005-07).
2017 Season Performances of Oju Chosan


Yasutoshi Ikee
Age 49 (January 13, 1969)
License Issued 2003
First Race March 20, 2004 (Sonic Surpass; 1st)
First Win March 20, 2004 (Sonic Surpass)
Season Record 350 starts, 63 wins, 43 seconds, 40 thirds
Career Record 3,881 starts, 597 wins, 456 seconds, 385 thirds
Winning Average in 2017 0.180
Earnings in 2017 ¥ 1,848,488,900
Principal Wins in 2017 Mile Championship (G1, Persian Knight),
Yasuda Kinen (G1, Satono Aladdin),
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, Al Ain),
Daily Hai Nisai Stakes (G2, Gendarme),
Hanshin Himba Stakes (G2, Mikki Queen),
Hanshin Daishoten (G2, Satono Diamond),
Challenge Cup (G3, Satono Chronicle),
Naruo Kinen (G3, Stay in Seattle), Mainichi Hai (G3, Al Ain),
Arlington Cup (G3, Persian Knight)

Yasutoshi Ikee saddled a productive string of horses in 2017 to claim his second JRA Award title for Races Won since 2008 while collecting his fourth title for Money Earned. His 63 wins in JRA alone include 10 graded titles, highlighted by three G1 wins with Al Ain (Satsuki Sho [Japanese 2000 Guineas]), Satono Aladdin (Yasuda Kinen) and Persian Knight (Mile Championship).

The son of former trainer Yasuo Ikee, Yasutoshi began as a groom and then was an assistant trainer for Kuniichi Asami’s yard. He worked at his father’s stable before studying the art of training in England and the U.S. under top trainers Sir Michael Stoute and Neil Drysdale, respectively. While based at the highly competitive Ritto Training Center in the Kansai area, Ikee quickly established himself as a prominent contender after acquiring his trainer’s license in 2003. He continued to support his father after opening his own stable in 2004 when Deep Impact traveled to France for the Arc and he took his own Picaresque Coat along to run in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2), finishing second.

Already a JRA Award recipient for Winning Average in 2006 when he saddled his first grade-one winner and the year’s eventual JRA Best Two-Year-Old Colt, Dream Journey, he led the nation with 51 wins in 2008 to claim both the JRA Award for Races Won at 39—youngest in JRA history—and Training Technique. He landed his second title for Winning Average in 2010 and then enjoyed his best season yet in 2011 with 11 grade-race wins and record annual earnings of 2,433,946,500 yen, which brought his first title for Money Earned. Orfevre, winner of the season’s Triple Crown as well as the Arima Kinen, contributed to four of Ikee’s five G1 titles, tying Ichizo Iwamoto (2000), and Tosen Jordan won the Tenno Sho (Autumn). Ikee scored his second title for Money Earned in 2012 and then enjoyed another successful season in 2015 with multiple-G1 winners Lovely Day and Mikki Queen for his third Money Earned title.


Mitsumasa Nakauchida
Age 39 (December 18, 1978)
License Issued 2012
First Race March 9, 2014 (S G Bloom; 15th)
First Win April 26, 2014 (Kikuno Raffica)
Season Record 215 starts, 46 wins, 19 seconds, 23 thirds
Career Record 819 starts, 108 wins, 94 seconds, 68 thirds
Winning Average in 2017 0.214
Earnings in 2017 ¥ 760,179,000
Principal Wins in 2017 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, Danon Premium),
Fantasy Stakes (G3, Beluga),
Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3, Danon Premium),
Niigata Nisai Stakes (G3, Frontier), Heian Stakes (G3, Great Pearl)

Mitsumasa Nakauchida distinguished his fourth season as a trainer with a personal best 46 wins in 2017, eighth on the national leaderboard, and a win rate of 21.4% for his first JRA Award as Best Trainer for Winning Average. The up-and-coming trainer also notched his first G1 victory with Best Two-Year-Old Colt Danon Premium, who accounted for two of Nakauchida’s five grade-race titles during the season.

Raised on a yearling farm run by his father near Ritto Training Center, Nakauchida started horseback riding in his early teens and left Japan to study abroad when still a high-school student. Beginning his overseas school days in Ireland, he moved to England to study Equine Business at West Oxfordshire College while gaining on-the-job training, exercising for top trainers such as Richard Hannon Sr. and Christiane Head-Maarek. He won two races as an amateur rider in England before graduating college and flying to the U.S.A. to work under Hall of Famer Robert Frankel. He furthered his knowledge as a horseman at major training farms such as Darley and Coolmore, where he learned the art of breaking in and laying the groundwork with young horses.

Returning to Japan and graduating from JRA’s Horse Racing School, Nakauchida became assistant trainer to Mitsuru Hashida in 2007, acquired his training license in 2012, worked as apprentice for Hideaki Fujiwara and then opened his own yard in 2014, scoring seven wins. He tripled his score to 23 in 2015 and landed his first grade-race title with Vous Etes Jolie in the Niigata Nisai Stakes in 2016, when his win total rose to 31, 20th on JRA’s national leaderboard. He reached his 100th career win on October 15, 2017, making him the fastest in JRA history to reach this milestone.


Noriyuki Hori
Age 50 (November 9, 1967)
License Issued 2002
First Race March 15, 2003 (Elegant Regalo; 12th)
First Win May 17, 2003 (Mr Tadahiro)
Season Record 241 starts, 49 wins, 23 seconds, 22 thirds
Career Record 3,262 starts, 500 wins, 340 seconds, 320 thirds
Winning Average in 2017 0.203
Earnings in 2017 ¥ 1,346,374,100
Principal Wins in 2017 Takarazuka Kinen (G1, Satono Crown),
Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, Neorealism), Stayers Stakes (G2, Albert),
Nakayama Kinen (G2, Neorealism), Kyoto Kinen (G2, Satono Crown),
Diamond Stakes (G3, Albert)

Noriyuki Hori was presented the Award for Best Trainer (Training Technique) for a second straight year, which also made him a JRA Award winner for three consecutive seasons. Besides Training Technique he also won titles for Winning Average and Money Earned in 2016 and in 2015 he became Best Trainer for Races Won and Winning Average. Though 2015 Horse of the Year Maurice contributed in Hori’s success during 2015 and 2016, his excellent training methods enabled him to remain among the top JRA trainers in 2017, including fifth in wins, seventh in earnings and second in winning average. He continued to produce G1 winners in 2017, including Neorealism, who won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong to mark Hori’s sixth career G1 title overseas, and Satono Crown, who claimed the spring All-Star event, the Takarazuka Kinen.

Hori began working as a groom at Tomizo Suwa’s stable, then became an assistant trainer under Yoshitaka Ninomiya, who is best known for saddling multiple G1 winners El Condor Pasa and Nakayama Festa in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1999 and 2010, respectively. Hori opened his own yard in 2003 and notched his first win in his 23rd start. He captured his first grade-race title in his fourth season when Venus Line won the 2006 Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3). His win total began to climb in 2009 when he posted 31 victories, ranking eighth in eastern Japan (Miho Training Center) and 22nd in the JRA national rankings.

Hori was 12th nationally with 36 wins in 2010, the year he won his first G1 title with Kinshasa no Kiseki in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. In 2011, he rose to sixth with 43 wins out of 214 starts—an achievement that earned his first JRA Award for Best Trainer (Winning Average). He was even more successful in 2015 when he scored 56 wins to become Best Trainer for both Races Won and Winning Average, and turned in another successful season in 2016 to win the titles for Money Earned, Winning Average and Training Technique. Top horses in Hori’s outstanding career have included Jaguar Mail (2010 Tenno Sho [Spring]), Real Impact (2011 Yasuda Kinen & 2015 George Ryder Stakes), Strong Return (2012 Yasuda Kinen) and Duramente (2015 Satsuki Sho [Japanese 2000 Guineas] & Tokyo Yushun [Japanese Derby]) and of course Maurice, who won six G1 titles (Yasuda Kinen, Mile Championship and Hong Kong Mile in 2015, Champions Mile, Tenno Sho [Autumn] and Hong Kong Cup in 2016).


Christophe Lemaire
Age 38 (May 20, 1979)
License Issued 2015 (France in 1999)
First Race December 7, 2002 (Classical Vogue; 12th)
First Win December 8, 2002 (Yamanin Lotus)
Season Record 809 starts, 199 wins, 138 seconds, 106 thirds
Career Record 4,132 starts, 742 wins, 568 seconds, 472 thirds
Winning Average in 2017 0.246
Earnings in 2017 ¥ 4,146,220,000
Principal Wins in 2017 Shuka Sho (G1, Deirdre),
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, Rey de Oro),
Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, Soul Stirring),
Victoria Mile (G1, Admire Lead), Hanshin Cup (G2, Isla Bonita),
Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (G2, Tower of London),
Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, Rey de Oro), Meguro Kinen (G2, Fame Game),
Milers Cup (G2, Isla Bonita), Hanshin Daishoten (G2, Satono Diamond),
Sapporo Nisai Stakes (G3, Rock This Town),
Keeneland Cup (G3, Epoisses), Tulip Sho (G3, Soul Stirring),
Queen Cup (G3, Admire Miyabi)

Christophe Lemaire concluded his 2017 season just one win short of becoming the second JRA jockey after Yutaka Take to exceed 200 wins. Nevertheless, the French native did not fail to continue listing his name among JRA Award winners in every year since debuting as an official JRA jockey in 2015. Having already claimed titles for Winning Average (2015, 2016) and Money Earned (2016) in his first two seasons, Lemaire covered the complete list of JRA titles for flat race jockeys this year thanks to scoring his inaugural Best Jockey for Races Won and Most Valuable Jockey along with his second consecutive title for Money Earned. His outstanding achievements during the season included three G1 victories over three weeks, making him only the second jockey—foreign and Japanese jockeys combined—after fellow Frenchman Olivier Peslier (2001) to accomplish the feat. The streak began with Admire Lead in the Victoria Mile followed by Soul Stirring in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and then Rey de Oro in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby). His Oaks-Derby double in a single season was the first in 42 years and only the fourth all-time.

Lemaire debuted as a regular jockey in 2015 after passing his JRA exam together with Mirco Demuro. Despite not starting until April, he still managed to notch 112 wins to place fourth on the leaderboard in his debut year and register the highest winning percentage to become Best Jockey for Winning Average. He won 13 grade-race titles including four G1 victories in 2016, earning him his first Money Earned title as well as his second award for Winning Average.

Born in Chantilly as the son of Patrice Lemaire, a leading jump jockey in the ‘80s, Lemaire began as an amateur rider in 1996 at the age of 16 and started riding professionally after acquiring his license in 1999. He landed his first G1 title in France in the 2003 Prix Jean Prat and was soon among the top jockeys at home and a rising star internationally with G1 titles in France, England, the UAE, Australia, Hong Kong and the United States. Lemaire began racing in Japan from 2002 under short-term licenses, during which he scored five G1 victories in the Arima Kinen (2005 Heart’s Cry) followed by the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (2008 Little Amapola), the Japan Cup Dirt (2008 Kane Hekili, 2013 Belshazzar) and the Japan Cup (2009 Vodka).


Mirco Demuro
Age 39 (January 11, 1979)
License Issued 2015 (Italy in 1994)
First Race December 4, 1999 (Koyu Love; 2nd)
First Win December 4, 1999 (Stadium Blue)
Season Record 665 starts, 171 wins, 103 seconds, 79 thirds
Career Record 4,423 starts, 775 wins, 584 seconds, 463 thirds
Winning Average in 2017 0.257
Earnings in 2017 ¥ 4,023,614,000
Principal Wins in 2017 Mile Championship (G1, Persian Knight),
Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, Mozu Katchan),
Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, Kiseki),
Sprinters Stakes (G1, Red Falx), Takarazuka Kinen (G1, Satono Crown),
February Stakes (G1, Gold Dream),
Copa Republica Argentina (G2, Suave Richard),
Mainichi Okan (G2, Real Steel), Centaur Stakes (G2, Fine Needle),
Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2, Red Falx), Aoba Sho (G2, Admirable),
Fillies’ Revue (G2, Karakurenai), Nakayama Kinen (G2, Neorealism),
Kyoto Kinen (G2, Satono Crown), Challenge Cup (G3, Satono Chronicle),
Antares Stakes (G3, Molto Bene), Arlington Cup (G3, Persian Knight),
Tokyo Shimbun Hai (G3, Black Spinel)

Mirco Demuro won his second JRA Award, this time for Winning Average with a record 25.7% strike rate. Previously he secured the award for Money Earned in 2015. Concluding the season with a personal best of 170 wins to place third in the national standings, he just missed winning Money Earned. He won six JRA-G1 titles to tie Yutaka Take (2005, 2006), Katsumi Ando (2007), Kenichi Ikezoe (2011) and Yasunari Iwata (2012), but only he accomplished the feat with six different horses.

Debuting in Italy in 1994 at age 15, Demuro became a champion apprentice with 79 wins in the following year. He was the leading jockey in Italy for four consecutive years between 1997 and 2000, including as Italy’s first teenage champion. His first group-race victory came in 1998 in the Premio Primi Passi (G3, Solitary Dancer) and his first G1 title was the Gran Premio del Jockey Club (Sumati) in 1999.

From early in his career, Demuro sought success at the international level and rode in numerous countries. He started riding in Japan under a short-term license in 1999 and found his riding skills were well appreciated. Given opportunities on talented mounts, he landed 31 grade-race titles, including 10 G1 victories, between 2001 and 2014. He captured his first two classic titles with Neo Universe in 2003 in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), and rode Screen Hero to victory in the 2008 Japan Cup. Demuro also gave Japanese racing a historic first success in the Dubai World Cup with Victoire Pisa in 2011.

Since debuting as an official JRA jockey in March 2015, he has claimed 42 graded titles, including 14 at the G1 level, with highly acclaimed runners such as 2015 Satsuki Sho-Tokyo Yushun winner Duramente, 2016 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) victor Jeweler, 2016-17 Sprinters Stakes champion Red Falx, 2017 Takarazuka Kinen champion Satono Crown and 2017 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) winner Kiseki.


Shinichi Ishigami
Age 35 (June 3, 1982)
License Issued 2001
First Race March 3, 2001 (Doto; 12th)
First Win March 31, 2001 (Raidenno Hana)
Season Record* 85 starts, 15 wins, 9 seconds, 8 thirds
Career Record* 658 starts, 52 wins, 72 seconds, 60 thirds
Earnings in 2017* 0.176
Earnings in 2017 ¥ 383,711,000
Principal Wins in 2017 Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1, Oju Chosan),
Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1, Oju Chosan),
Tokyo High-Jump (J-G2, Oju Chosan),
Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, Oju Chosan)
*steeplechases only

Shinichi Ishigami led all jump-race jockeys with 15 wins, as in 2016, to wrap up his second consecutive Best Steeplechase Jockey title, aided by his success with champion steeplechase horse Oju Chosan—a perfect four for four including two annual J-G1 events, the Nakayama Grand Jump and the Nakayama Daishogai. Now established as a skilled steeplechase jockey, he aims to accomplish another feat with Oju Chosan, who is still in the process of extending his winning streak and consecutive J-G1 victories in 2018.

Ishigami began his career as a flat race jockey in 2001 and he landed his first win aboard Raidenno Hana on March 31. He made steady progress with more than ten wins in each of his first four seasons and scored an impressive runner-up effort in the 2004 Copa Republica Argentina (G2) with Tenjin Musashi. But then his career soured in 2005 and 2006 due to a prolonged suspension followed by injuries that he sustained in a fall.

Seeking to broaden his riding opportunities, Ishigami started riding jumpers from 2007 and scored his first win in the following year, but he had to wait until 2013 for his first graded win aboard Assatis Boy in the Niigata Jump Stakes (J-G3). Eventually, he began riding over jumps more than on the flat. Though his win totals remained in the modest single-digit range, his riding skill over jumps became well appreciated due to his sound rate of finishing within the money, placing his name among the prominent jump jockeys in JRA racing.

His big break came in 2016 when he shot all the way up to the top of the national leaderboard (jump races only) with 15 wins including five grade-race victories which tied the JRA record set by Tadashi Kosaka in 2006. He rose to stardom by dominating both J-G1 titles with Oju Chosan to claim the season’s JRA Award for Best Steeplechase Jockey.


The JRA Equine Culture Award recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture. Nominations for the 2017 award included horse-related cultural events and publications that were held or published between November 2016 and October 2017.

Winner: “Sekai de Ichiban Utsukushii Uma no Zukan” (The Majesty of the Horse: An Illustrated History)

The Equine Culture Award for 2017 was presented to an illustrated book, “Sekai de Ichiban Utsukushii Uma no Zukan,” written by Tamsin Pickeral, photographed by Astrid Harrisson, translated by Fumi Kawagishi and published by X-Knowledge Co., Ltd. The book traces the evolution of over 80 horse breeds that have played central roles in human civilization, including cultural and industrious revolutions. Intriguing photographs, illustrations and facts help to explain the diversity and power of one of the closest animals to people, showcasing the splendor, grace and physical beauty of horses as well as revealing how changes and adaptation have enabled them to walk through the ages with humankind. The book is as educational about equine culture as it is artistic as an illustrated book.

Recipient: Tamsin Pickeral (author)

Tamsin Pickeral was born in England, the daughter of a veterinarian and an artist/art teacher, and lived close to horses and animals from childhood. After graduating with a degree in art history and architecture, Pickeral traveled extensively and began researching the history of horses in art while working as a veterinary nurse. She launched her current career as a writer by leveraging her knowledge of art and history and experience with animals and equestrian sports. Her earlier works include “The Elegance of the Cat” and “The Spirit of the Dog.”

Recipient: Astrid Harrisson (photographer)

Astrid Harrisson is an award-winning photographer who has used her strong background in art and design to shape her approach towards photography in a unique and artistic manner. First inspired by horses when working on a ranch in Argentina in 2008, she has trained her lens on the world’s finest and rarest horses, often in some of the most interesting cultures around the globe.

Recipient: Fumi Kawagishi (translator)

A Rikkyo University graduate with a degree in Department of Letters Course in German Literature, Fumi Kawagishi’s translations include “Den Tagen mehr Leben geben” (by Dörte Schipper), “Architektier: Baumeister der Natur” (by Ingo Arndt and Jürgen Tautz) and numerous films and manga comics. He is also a columnist for the magazine, “Interpretation/Translation Journal.”

Recipient: X-Knowledge Co., Ltd. (publisher)

Currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, publisher X-Knowledge Co., Ltd specializes in architecture and interior publications, including its best-known magazine “Architecture Knowledge.” The company has recently expanded into educational publications such as illustrated biological encyclopedias, home-keeping and hobby books and art-related publications, aiming to provide society with highly useful information and knowledge.

Results of the 2017 JRA Awards (Total Votes: 290)

  Place Horse Votes
Horse of the Year 1 Kitasan Black 287
2 Oju Chosan 3
Year-Old Colt
1 Danon Premium 275
2 Time Flyer 13
3 Le Vent Se Leve 1
4 Wagnerian 1
Best Two-Year-Old Filly 1 Lucky Lilac 290
Best Three-Year-Old Colt 1 Rey de Oro 289
2 Kiseki 1
Best Three-Year-Old Filly 1 Soul Stirring 162
2 Mozu Katchan 120
3 Aerolithe 4
4 Deirdre 3
5 Reine Minoru 1
Best Older Colt or Horse 1 Kitasan Black 290
  Place Horse Votes
Best Older Filly or Mare 1 Vivlos 194
2 Admire Lead 49
3 none 42
4 Crocosmia 2
4 Mikki Queen 2
6 Let's Go Donki 1
Best Sprinter or Miler 1 Red Falx 264
2 Persian Knight 16
3 none 6
4 Admire Lead 2
5 Isla Bonita 1
5 Seiun Kosei 1
Best Dirt Horse 1 Gold Dream 261
2 Copano Rickey 28
3 Sound True 1
Best Steeplechase Horse 1 Oju Chosan 289
2 none 1

2017 JRA Trainer Ranking

Place Name 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Below Rides Win Ratio Earnings
1 Yasutoshi Ikee 63 43 40 27 24 153 350 0.180 ¥ 1,848,488,900
2 Katsuhiko Sumii 56 53 31 41 26 149 356 0.157 ¥ 1,348,481,000
3 Hideaki Fujiwara 55 50 35 30 20 124 314 0.175 ¥ 1,100,927,400
4 Yoshito Yahagi 49 36 38 38 35 317 513 0.096 ¥ 1,095,263,000
5 Noriyuki Hori 49 23 22 25 19 103 241 0.203 ¥ 1,346,374,100
6 Hidetaka Otonashi 48 41 36 43 32 177 377 0.127 ¥ 1,283,897,000
7 Sakae Kunieda 48 35 33 23 26 171 336 0.143 ¥ 880,563,000
8 Mitsumasa Nakauchida 46 19 23 17 20 90 215 0.214 ¥ 760,179,000
9 Kazuo Fujisawa 44 45 22 15 19 132 277 0.159 ¥ 1,425,478,000
10 Yasuo Tomomichi 44 27 25 20 17 103 236 0.186 ¥ 1,797,893,000
  • *Including NAR and overseas starts

2017 JRA Jockey Ranking

Place Name 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Below Rides Win Ratio Earnings
1 Christophe Lemaire 199 138 106 62 57 247 809 0.246 ¥ 4,146,220,000
2 Keita Tosaki 171 126 95 84 65 384 925 0.185 ¥ 2,765,556,000
3 Mirco Demuro 171 103 79 60 53 199 665 0.257 ¥ 4,023,614,000
4 Yuichi Fukunaga 116 85 81 69 65 324 740 0.157 ¥ 2,037,694,000
5 Ryuji Wada 96 86 100 108 89 542 1,021 0.094 ¥ 2,030,606,000
6 Yuga Kawada 91 94 73 44 39 251 592 0.154 ¥ 1,939,943,000
7 Hiroyuki Uchida 89 79 91 93 81 528 961 0.093 ¥ 1,556,311,000
8 Hironobu Tanabe 84 84 64 55 54 345 686 0.122 ¥ 1,650,712,000
9 Yasunari Iwata 83 73 94 88 74 427 839 0.099 ¥ 1,881,196,000
10 Yutaka Take 82 86 63 60 56 258 605 0.136 ¥ 2,708,875,000
  • *JRA only