2021 JRA Award
HORSE OF THE YEARBEST THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT
BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT
Do Deuce (JPN)
BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY
Circle of Life (JPN)
BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY
BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT
BEST OLDER FILLY OR MARE
Loves Only You (JPN)
BEST SPRINTER OR MILER
Gran Alegria (JPN)
BEST DIRT HORSE
T O Keynes (JPN)
BEST STEEPLECHASE HORSE
Oju Chosan (JPN)
TRAINERS & JOCKEYS
BEST TRAINER (RACES WON) & (MONEY EARNED) & (TRAINING TECHNIQUE)
BEST TRAINER (WINNING AVERAGE)
BEST JOCKEY (RACES WON) & (MONEY EARNED) & MOST VALUABLE JOCKEY
BEST JOCKEY (WINNING AVERAGE)
BEST STEEPLECHASE JOCKEY
BEST JOCKEY (NEWCOMER)
JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD
Winner: Horse Brain, Human Brain - The Neuroscience of Horsemanship
Recipient: Janet L. Jones, Ph.D. (author)
Recipient: Chizuko Amacho (translation)
Recipient: Hiroyuki Mochida (editorial cooperation)
Recipient: Pan Rolling, Inc. (publisher)
JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD SPECIAL AWARD
Winner: Uma to Kodai Shakai (book about horses and ancient society)
Recipient: Kenichi Sasaki
Recipient: Akio Kawajiri
Recipient: Kazuhiko Kurozumi
Efforia Dominates 2021 Horse of the Year Voting
The Japan Racing Association will present its 2021 Horse of the Year title to three-year-old colt Efforia, who secured 277 out of 296 votes for an outstanding year in which he dominated three prestigious G1 events – the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), Tenno Sho (Autumn) and Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix). The star colt was also unanimously selected Best Three-Year-Old Colt. JRA regrets that its awards ceremony to recognize Efforia and other horses, trainers, jockeys and individuals for outstanding performances or achievements during the thoroughbred racing season has had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, like last year.
Best Two-Year-Old Colt Do Deuce, Best Two-Year-Old Filly Circle of Life, Best Three-Year-Old Filly Sodashi, Best Older Colt or Horse Contrail, Best Older Filly or Mare Loves Only You, Best Sprinter or Miler Gran Alegria and Best Dirt Horse T O Keynes all collected over 79.0% of the votes. Meanwhile, Oju Chosan outdueled the previous winner Meisho Dassai by 39 votes to earn the Best Steeplechase Horse title.
JRA Best Trainer Awards were presented in the categories of Races Won, Winning Average, Money Earned and Training Technique based on accomplishments in JRA races and designated NAR and overseas races. Yoshito Yahagi once again dominated three categories, like the previous year, by winning his fourth Best Trainer title for Races Won, third for Money Earned and second for Training Technique. Mitsumasa Nakauchida won his third title for Winning Average following 2017 and 2019.
Best Jockey Awards were presented in the categories of Races Won, Winning Average, Money Earned, Steeplechase and Newcomer based on accomplishments in JRA races alone. Christophe Lemaire received two awards, Races Won and Money Earned, for the fifth and sixth consecutive time, respectively. He also earned his fifth successive Most Valuable Jockey title based on combined points for wins, earnings, winning average and rides in JRA races and designated races held by NAR or overseas. Yuga Kawada claimed his third consecutive Winning Average title, which he also won in 2013 and 2014. Kazuma Mori captured his third consecutive Best Steeplechase Jockey title and Daito Ozawa was named Best Jockey (Newcomer) with 31 wins in his debut year.
The Equine Culture Award was presented to Janet L. Jones, PhD, Chizuko Amacho, Hiroyuki Mochida and Pan Rolling, Inc. for their book “Horse Brain, Human Brain – The Neuroscience of Horsemanship.” The Equine Culture Award Special Award went to Kenichi Sasaki, Akio Kawajiri and Kazuhiko Kurozumi for their book, “Uma to Kodai Shakai,” about horses and ancient society.
All information, including ages and race performances, are as of December 31, 2021 unless indicated otherwise. Wins and earnings include JRA races, JRA-designated local public races operated under the National Association of Racing (NAR; local public racing) and overseas starts, except for jockeys. "Season Performances" charts show positions in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and final corners, from left to right. "L3F" indicates the time run over the last three furlongs (600m) and "[Horse]" shows the horse's weight.
Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1 - English)
Efforia was voted Horse of the Year with 277 out of 296 total votes and also was selected unanimously as Best Three-Year-Old Colt for his outstanding accomplishments in three G1 victories: the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) or first leg of the Triple Crown, Tenno Sho (Autumn) which he was the first three-year-old to win since Symboli Kris S in 2002, and Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) which validated him as Japan’s top champion. The colt will head for the Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m) this coming April 3.
After winning both of his two starts in his debut campaign, Efforia commenced his three-year-old season in the Kyodo News Hai as fourth pick. After staying near the pace, he easily took command 300 meters out to notch his first grade-race win by a comfortable 2-1/2 lengths. In the Satsuki Sho as second-favorite, he immediately secured a comfortable position in third or fourth, moved up inside rounding for home and, despite being pinched back briefly, powered clear with incredible speed to cross the line ahead by three lengths. His winning streak was put to a stop, however, in the following Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), where, despite taking the lead in the last furlong, he was caught in the last strides by Shahryar and lost by a whisker in his first and only defeat.
Following a five-month layoff, Efforia began his 2021 autumn campaign in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), where he challenged older contenders for the first time. After turning the last two corners wide from sitting in sixth, the colt displayed an impressive burst of speed to overtake Gran Alegria at the furlong pole and then held off the late-charging Contrail by a length to capture the title. The Epiphaneia colt was voted first pick in a record 260,742 ballots in the “Grand Prix” Arima Kinen, where runners are selected by polling fans. After the third corner, the fan-favorite slowly made headway on the outside from mid-pack and then kicked into high gear to take the lead after the furlong marker before shaking off a stubborn Deep Bond in the final strides for a 3/4-length victory.
Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1 - English)
Do Deuce was chosen Best Two-Year-Old Colt by amassing 251 votes – a crushing defeat of Hopeful Stakes-winner Killer Ability who collected 44 – based on his perfect three wins out of as many starts, including in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. The undefeated colt will commence his three-year-old campaign in the Yayoi Sho Deep Impact Kinen (G2, 2,000m) on March 6.
Heavily favored in his September debut start, the progeny of Heart's Cry steadily accelerated from mid-pack and beat his only threat by a neck after a fierce duel over the last furlong. As second pick in the listed Ivy Stakes a month later, the colt showed good speed after inheriting the lead well before the furlong marker and held off a strong late charge by Gran Cielo for another neck win.
The Yasuo Tomomichi-trained colt then made his grade-race debut in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. Traveling wide in mid-pack, he closed strongly down the middle of the straight and drew even with two-time graded winner Serifos after the furlong pole, then tied for the fastest late speed as he battled stride-for-stride to the line before shaking off the favorite in the final strides to capture the title by half a length.
Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1 - English)
Circle of Life secured the title for 2021 Best Two-Year-Old Filly with her G1 victory in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. The Epiphaneia filly, who concluded her two-year-old season with three wins out of four starts, will commence her three-year-old campaign in the Tulip Sho (G2, 1,600m) on March 5 prior to a G1 challenge in the 2022 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m).
Circle of Life made her two-year-old debut in August last year and got into a battle with subsequent graded winner Equinox but was unable to sustain her bid and finished a seven-length third. However, her full potential surfaced in her next start, where, despite missing her break, the speedy filly made ground quickly from the rear to trail only the leader turning for home before pulling away from 200 meters out for a 2 1/2-length victory. Sent to post seventh choice in the following Artemis Stakes, the bay filly timed the fastest finish over the last three furlongs after taking a ground-saving route around seventh position to eventually finish off the leader by a neck.
In the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, Circle of Life traveled off the rails in mid-field throughout most of the race and was still way behind turning for home, but still had the energy to move farther out for a clear path down the stretch and into contention after the furlong pole. Engaged in a four-horse rally in the last 100 meters, she took command with just 50 meters remaining and prevailed for a half-length victory.
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1 - English)Video
Sodashi made history as the first white horse to capture a classic victory by claiming the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) in a course-record time, earning her the title of 2021 Best Three-Year-Old Filly.
As a two-year-old, the Kurofune filly marked four wins in four starts, including the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, becoming the first white horse to score a JRA-G1 title while also securing the 2020 Best Two-Year-Old Filly title.
Kicking off the 2021 season as the Oka Sho favorite, she broke sharply but settled patiently on the rails behind the pace. After entering the straight in third, Sodashi had no trouble pinning the two leaders to power clear 300 meters out and then hold off the desperate closers to land her second G1 victory by a neck. In the following Yushun Himba, however, the undefeated filly failed to respond in the stretch due to a longer distance and was a disappointing eighth.
Given a three-month break from her first defeat, Sodashi bounced back well to notch the Sapporo Kinen in August. Traveling right behind the pace, she made an early bid rounding the third corner and sustained her lead to the wire to score a 3/4-length win, defeating three older G1 horses including Loves Only You, the subsequent winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Sent off heavy favorite in the Shuka Sho, the white filly failed to fire in the stretch after settling behind the frontrunner and was beaten to 10th, possibly due to a gum injury sustained at the gate that led to bleeding in her mouth. She was then sent off to the G1 Champions Cup to test her talent in dirt races and set the pace before weakening in the last 400 meters, finishing 12th.
Japan Cup (G1-English)
Contrail, who only raced three times during 2021, his final season, nevertheless turned in a convincing victory in the Japan Cup to cap off a stellar career to earn 282 votes as the season's Best Older Colt or Horse. Since debuting as a two-year-old, the Deep Impact colt won eight out of 11 starts over three seasons, including five G1 titles and within the money in his remaining three G1 starts. The brown colt retired in 10th on the JRA list of career earnings with JPY 1,195,294,000. He will now stand at Shadai Stallion Station where he is hoped to be as successful as his sire Deep Impact in his new career.
Contrail won all three starts in 2019, including the G1 Hopeful Stakes, to claim an overwhelming number of votes as the season's Best Two-Year-Old Colt. He remained successful in his three-year-old campaign, following in the footsteps of his sire as an undefeated Triple Crown winner – only the third in JRA history. His undefeated record ended in the 2020 Japan Cup where he finished second to legendary Almond Eye, but was still selected unanimously as the Best Three-Year-Old Colt.
In his four-year-old debut, the Osaka Hai, Contrail struggled with the course's rain-soddened turf and finished third. Given a long break in the hope of bouncing back to form in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), he was slow to pick up speed, trailed leader Efforia by over a length in mid-pack and couldn't make up ground despite angling out in the stretch, settling for second.
In the Japan Cup, breaking well from the second-most inner stall, Contrail settled in mid-pack and two-wide behind Kiseki, who made rapid headway in the backstretch from the rear and led by six to seven lengths. By the time the field hit the straight, the brown colt had shifted to the roomy outside and then displayed his trademark explosive kick, shaking off Shahryar after a brief rally at the furlong pole and then shifted into top gear to easily put away Authority 100 meters out for a convincing two-length win.
Loves Only You became the first Japanese horse to claim three overseas G1 titles in the same year – two in Hong Kong and one in the U.S., which also made her the first Japanese-trained horse to win a Breeders' Cup race. The globetrotting mare will now begin her new career as a broodmare at Northern Farm where she herself was bred.
Full sister to 2016 Dubai Turf winner Real Steel, the Deep Impact filly was undefeated when she won the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) in her fourth career start as a three-year-old. Thereafter, however, she was winless for nearly two years but took third in both the 2019 and 2020 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
After scoring her first win in seven starts in her 2021 kickoff, the Kyoto Kinen, the five-year-old mare flew to the UAE for the Dubai Sheema Classic, where she rallied with Mishriff and Chrono Genesis to register a close third. A month later, Loves Only You returned to Hong Kong and claimed her first overseas G1 title in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, where she settled in fourth and then gradually accelerated to take command 200 meters out, pulling away from fillies' Triple Crown winner Daring Tact and holding off another Japanese rival, Glory Vase, for a 3/4-length victory.
Marking a runner-up effort in her comeback start, the Sapporo Kinen, Loves Only You next flew to the U.S. for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Racing in fifth with little room coming into the stretch, she showed an impressive turn of speed as soon as she found an opening and took the lead before the wire for her historic victory. The busy bay then flew directly from the U.S. to Hong Kong where she won another G1 race, the Hong Kong Cup, before retirement. In the Cup, the Deep Impact mare met traffic early in the stretch after racing in fifth, but she slid through a narrow path 300 meters out to join a three-horse rally and then found another gear in the last 100 meters to score a head victory.
Mile Championship (G1 - English)
Gran Alegria successfully defended her Mile Championship title to become the race's first back-to-back winner since Daiwa Major (2006-07), thereby securing her second consecutive JRA title as Best Sprinter or Miler. The classy daughter of Deep Impact ended her stellar racing career with six G1 titles as the sixth female runner to exceed career earnings of JPY1 billion. She will begin her new career at Northern Farm, where she is expected to be served by Epiphaneia.
Gran Alegria scored two victories, including the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3), from three starts as a two-year-old. She landed a record-breaking victory in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1) as a three-year-old, but after finishing fifth in the following NHK Mile Cup she was sidelined due to a hoof abscess in her left foreleg. She resumed racing in the year-end Hanshin Cup (G2), where she demonstrated her extraordinary speed in an overwhelming five-length victory against her seniors and thereby was named JRA's Best Three-Year-Old Filly of 2019. The four-year-old Deep Impact filly went on to win three more G1 titles – the Yasuda Kinen, Sprinters Stakes and Mile Championship – from four starts in 2020 and was just one vote short of a unanimous selection as the 2020 Best Sprinter or Miler.
In her 2021 kick-off start, the Osaka Hai, she embarked on a new challenge by stepping up in distance to 2,000 meters, but she struggled to find her best speed over the heavy turf and finished fourth. However, in the Victoria Mile, the five-year-old mare settled in mid-division around 10th and then took the front 200 meters out with a tremendous kick for a four-length victory. She missed by a head in attempting to defend her title in the Yasuda Kinen, where she met traffic at the straight before making a belated charge after finding a clear path, but finished second.
Gran Alegria showed signs of epiglottic entrapment when training, which required surgery in the summer, but she made her comeback in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), another 2,000-meter challenge. She chased the leaders in third and assumed command with 300 meters left but was out-finished by Efforia and Contrail to third. But she did not disappoint at her best distance in the following Mile Championship, which she won comfortably with the fastest finishing speed despite racing wide and well behind in the early stages, giving her another G1 title in her finale.
Champions Cup (G1 - English)
T O Keynes claimed the 2021 Best Dirt Horse title by marking four wins out of five starts, including the Champions Cup, where he registered his first JRA-G1 title with a six-length margin, a record since the race moved to Chukyo Racecourse in 2014. He is scheduled to kick off his 2022 season in the Saudi Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m) on February 26 in Saudi Arabia, which will be his first overseas endeavor.
Having raced only on dirt since his debut in October of his two-year-old season, the son of Sinister Minister marked a win and two thirds that year and then landed three more wins out of seven starts the following year, which included his first graded challenge in NAR's yearend Tokyo Daishoten (G1, dirt, 2,000m), where he finished sixth.
After winning his first start of the 2021 season in the Nagoyajo Stakes, the chestnut scored his first grade-race title in the Antares Stakes, where he entered the lane in second after sitting in sixth and then easily assumed command 300 meters out for a 1 3/4-lengths victory. T O Keynes followed up by extending his winning streak to three in the Teio Sho, which he dominated by three lengths.
Though finishing fourth after a slow break in his autumn kickoff, the JBC Classic, he bounced back to form in the Champions Cup. Overcoming a weak start, T O Keynes broke smoothly, settled around sixth, negotiated traffic at the top of the stretch to thread a slot outside, and then finally broke loose 300 meters out with a remarkable burst – the fastest last three furlongs – for an overwhelming six-length victory.
Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1)
Oju Chosan became the first horse to land the same JRA Award title four times by being named the 2021 Best Steeplechase Horse, after consecutive titles from 2016 to 2018. In his third triumph in the Nakayama Daishogai, following 2016 and 2017, the son of Stay Gold became the first horse over nine years of age, since Kyoei Warrior in 1989, to win the race. With his five victories in the Nakayama Grand Jump, the 10-year-old bay now has eight J-G1 titles. He will remain in training this season and start in the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, 3,900m) on March 12 prior to another record-making challenge in the Nakayama Grand Jump.
Winless in two starts on the flat as a two-year-old, Oju Chosan was given a year break to restart his racing career over obstacles and soon excelled. In his 12th career start over obstacles, the 2016 Nakayama Grand Jump, he claimed his first of five consecutive J-G1 victories as well as 13 straight graded wins over obstacles. He finally was defeated to third in the J-G3 Kyoto Jump Stakes in November of 2020 and was sidelined thereafter with a minor leg problem.
He came back in the 2021 Nakayama Grand Jump, aiming for a sixth consecutive triumph, but after vying for the lead early and then chasing the leader in second or third, he struggled to keep up in the closing stages, failing to launch his trademark late drive and finishing a distant fifth to 2020 Best Steeplechase Horse Meisho Dassai.
Given another six months to regain his form, he finished a two-length third in his comeback start in the Tokyo High-Jump. In the following Nakayama Daishogai, Oju Chosan chased the leaders along the rails in fourth from a smooth break, continued to race prominently while changing hands to the left, and then advanced to second and to the inside as the field changed hands again after the giant hedge. The seven-time J-G1 winner took command after the 10th jump and, although briefly overtaken by Blason d'Amour at the last obstacle, quickly regained the lead turning for home and pulled away with a furlong to go for a three-length victory.
Yoshito Yahagi turned in yet another successful season to score a back-to-back (and fourth total) Best Trainer (Races Won) award as well as his third consecutive Best Trainer (Money Earned) title and second Best Trainer (Training Technique) title. While his only JRA G1 victory in 2021 was the Japan Cup with 2020 Triple Crown winner Contrail, Yahagi flourished abroad by notching four G1 victories with Loves Only You, who won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and Hong Kong Cup in Hong Kong and also became the first Japanese horse to claim a Breeders' Cup title in the Filly & Mare Turf. He also prevailed with Marche Lorraine, who became the first Japanese-trained mare to win a dirt-G1 title in the U.S. in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
The son of Kazuto Yahagi, a former trainer at NAR's Oi Racecourse, Yoshito Yahagi has always been around horses. His father initially did not approve of him becoming a horse trainer, but he finally agreed on the condition that Yahagi would strive to become a JRA trainer and that he would first learn the art of training outside Japan. As a result, he learned training basics in Australia, where he worked at Randwick in New South Wales and at Flemington, Victoria and Toowoomba in Queensland, after which he also trained in Britain. Upon returning to Japan, he introduced interval training to help his father's yard and then enrolled in the stable employee course at the JRA Horse Racing School.
Yahagi became an assistant trainer for a number of JRA trainers, including Sadataka Sugaya, from whom he learned the business side of running a successful training yard. Although it took him more than 10 years to obtain his license, it was not long before his unique training philosophy and staff management proved effective. He made the top 10 in the national rankings in his fourth season as a trainer, achieved the runner-up position in the following year and has remained in the top 10 since 2012. His titles include the JRA Award for Best Trainer (Races Won) in 2014, 2016, 2020 and 2021, Best Trainer (Money Earned) from 2019 to 2021, and Best Trainer (Training Technique) in 2020 and 2021.
Mitsumasa Nakauchida claimed his third title for Best Trainer (Winning Average), following 2017 and 2019, with a strike rate of 18.6%. He scored a personal best of 54 wins including five graded titles, placing him above Yoshito Yahagi as JRA's leading trainer for the first time. His accomplishments in G1 races include a second with Serifos in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (which Nakauchida also won the year before with Grenadier Guards) and a third in the NHK Mile Cup with Grenadier Guards.
Raised on a yearling farm run by his father near Ritto Training Center, Nakauchida started horseback riding in his early teens before leaving Japan to study abroad when still a high-school student. After first studying in Ireland, he moved to England to study equine business at West Oxfordshire College while also gaining on-the-job training by 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 from college and moving to the U.S.A. to work under Hall of Famer Robert Frankel. He deepened 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 and then acquired his training license in 2012 and worked as an apprentice for Hideaki Fujiwara. He finally opened his own yard in 2014 and scored seven wins. The next year he more than tripled his wins to 23. He 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 trainer in JRA history to reach this milestone. Nakauchida also won his first JRA Award for Best Trainer (Winning Average) in 2017 with a win rate of 21.4%, good for 46 wins, eighth on the national leaderboard, including his first G1 victory with Danon Premium in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. In 2019 he claimed another JRA Award for Best Trainer (Winning Average) with 22.5% as well as Best Trainer (Training Technique), while registering 48 wins, including eight grade-race titles, to finish fourth on the national leaderboard.
Christophe Lemaire continued to dominate the JRA racing scene in 2021, claiming his fifth consecutive Best Jockey title for Races Won by an overwhelming 63-win margin and his sixth title for Money Earned along with his fifth successive Most Valuable Jockey title. While just one win short of 200, a mark he achieved in both 2018 and 2020, Lemaire landed 17 grade-race titles, including five G1 wins – the February Stakes with Cafe Pharoah, NHK Mile Cup with Schnell Meister, Victoria Mile and Mile Championship with Gran Alegria, and Takarazuka Kinen with Chrono Genesis. His latest triumph in the Mile Championship also was his milestone 1,500th career win, which he accomplished with the fewest-ever number of mounts (7,048).
Since debuting as a regular JRA jockey in 2015, the French native has led all jockeys in Japan five times and has collected 106 grade-race titles including 35 G1 victories. He has partnered with multiple-G1 winners such as Major Emblem, Satono Diamond, Soul Stirring, Rey de Oro, Almond Eye, Fierement and Gran Alegria. He renewed a number of JRA records in 2018, including surpassing legendary Yutaka Take’s long-standing records with 215 annual wins, 8 annual G1 titles and annual earnings of JPY4.66 billion. His JRA Award Best Jockey titles include five for Races Won (2017-21), three for Winning Average (2015, 2016 and 2018), six for Money Earned (2016-21), five for Most Valuable Jockey (2017-21) and one Grand Prize (2018).
Born in Chantilly and 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 as well as 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: the Arima Kinen (2005 Heart’s Cry), the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (2008 Little Amapola), the Japan Cup Dirt (2008 Kane Hekili, 2013 Belshazzar) and the Japan Cup (2009 Vodka).
Yuga Kawada claimed his third consecutive and fifth overall Best Jockey (Winning Average) title, the first two of which he claimed in 2013 and 2014. He concluded his 2021 season in second on the national leaderboard with 136 wins, including three G1s – the Takamatsunomiya Kinen with Danon Smash, Osaka Hai with Lei Papale and Yasuda Kinen with Danon Kingly – and 11 other grade-race titles. Apart from JRA races, he won 11 major NAR titles, including the JBC Sprint with Red le Zele, the JBC Ladies' Classic with Teorema and two overseas G1s with Loves Only You, one of which made him the first Japanese jockey to claim a Breeders' Cup title.
Born into a racing family – his father and uncle are jockeys-turned-trainers and his grandfather was a trainer at Saga Racecourse (NAR) – Yuga learned to ride at an early age and made his debut in March 2004. He registered his first win two weeks later at Hanshin Racecourse and concluded his debut year with 16 wins. In the following years he gradually accumulated more wins and landed his first graded title in the Kokura Daishoten (G3) in 2006.
His big break came in 2008, when he won his first G1 and classic title with Captain Thule in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and concluded the season with 73 wins, including six grade-race victories. He rose to ninth on the leaderboard with 83 wins in 2010 and then claimed triple-digit wins for the first time the following year, placing third with 109 wins. He has ranked consistently in the top seven since then, reaching as high as second four times: 2013, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
His other G1 wins include the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) with Big Week in 2010; Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) with Gentildonna in 2012; Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) with Harp Star and Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Lachesis in 2014; Yasuda Kinen with Maurice and Takarazuka Kinen with Lovely Day in 2015; Tokyo Yushun with Makahiki in 2016, when he became only the eighth jockey in history to claim all five classic races for three-year-old colts and fillies; Yasuda Kinen with Satono Aladdin and Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes with Danon Premium in 2017; Takamatsunomiya Kinen and Sprinters Stakes with Fine Needle in 2018; Champions Cup with Chrysoberyl in 2019; and Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes with Grenadier Guards and Hopeful Stakes with Danon the Kid in 2020.
Kazuma Mori won his third consecutive JRA Award for Best Steeplechase Jockey title, becoming the second jockey to do so since Makoto Nishitani (2006-2008). His 10 wins in jump racing last year included the Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1) and the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2) with Meisho Dassai.
Born in Kanagawa Prefecture, Mori entered the JRA Horseracing School in 2008 and began his career as a flat race jockey from Masahiro Matsunaga stable at Ritto Training Center in 2011. He landed his first win in just his ninth start and concluded his debut season with four wins. He then started riding steeplechase from the following year and finished fifth in his first graded start, the Kokura Summer Jump, with Nobori Duke.
Mori accumulated more wins over the years and started to distinguish himself as a steeplechase jockey, claiming the 2015 Kyoto Jump Stakes (J-G3) with Dantsu Mutant and coming in fourth in the J-G1 Nakayama Daishogai with the same horse, despite being posted only ninth favorite. He captured his second graded title in the Niigata Jump Stakes (J-G3) with Good Sky in 2017. He steadily placed among the top jockeys in J-G1 jump events, finishing third in the 2016 Nakayama Grand Jump with seventh-pick Meisho Arawashi and third in the 2018 Nakayama Daishogai with sixth-choice Meiner Prompt. In 2019, his ninth year as a jockey, he claimed his first JRA Award for Best Steeplechase Jockey with 15 wins, which included the Kokura Summer Jump (J-G3) with Meisho Dassai. Mori defended his Best Steeplechase Jockey title the following year with 14 wins, including his much-awaited inaugural J-G1 title with Meisho Dassai in the Nakayama Daishogai, his 10th attempt at this level.
While steeplechase races started to account for the majority of his rides from 2018, he continued to compete in flat races. Though lacking any graded wins, he has accumulated 32 career wins in flat racing and was runner-up in three graded events – the 2013 Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2), the 2014 Niigata Daishoten (G3) and the 2015 Sekiya Kinen (G3). He has also ridden in G1 flat races such as the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) with Rhein Spirit for three consecutive years from 2017, his best result being 10th in 2019. As an invitee to the Prix Longines Future Racing Stars for young jockeys at France's Chantilly Racecourse in June 2014, he came in sixth aboard Usbeke.
Daito Ozawa achieved a personal goal in claiming the JRA Award for Best Jockey (Newcomer) by landing 31 wins in his first season as a JRA jockey to beat main rival Takezo Nagano by two wins.
Born in Aichi Prefecture, Ozawa grew up in an atmosphere alien to horse racing, but his love for animals steered him to try horseback riding at a nearby private riding club. At the age of 14, he joined the junior riding team at Chukyo Racecourse and went on to enroll in the JRA Horse Racing School in 2018.
Graduated three years later, Ozawa began riding under trainer Masahiro Matsunaga and immediately scored his first win in his debut start on March 6 at Hanshin Racecourse. The rookie landed another win the same day and became the fourth jockey in history to notch two wins in his debut. He steadily accumulated wins thereafter, claiming his 10th victory on May 29 and his 20th on September 12. Stuck on 27 wins at the end of November, Ozawa finally won again on December 18 and twice the next day to clear the 30-win minimum required to qualify for the JRA Award for Best Jockey (Newcomer). He then added a final win on Christmas day before capping off his freshman season. In his sole graded challenge, the G3 Heian Stakes on May 22, he finished 14th on eighth-pick Dos Hearts.
The JRA Equine Culture Award recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture. Nominations for the 2021 award included horse-related cultural events and publications held or published between November 2020 and October 2021.
Winner: Horse Brain, Human Brain—The Neuroscience of Horsemanship
This book explains, taking the perspective of cognitive science and based on the author's experience in training and riding horses, how people involved with horses can communicate with this animal to build bonds of trust and acquire true horsemanship. The book was highly appraised for its fresh perspective in analyzing horse behavior and its convincing and comprehensive explanation of how to become a true horseperson by placing top priority on the horse.
Janet L. Jones, PhD (author)
Janet Jones is a cognitive scientist who applies her learnings to the training of horses and riders. Earning her Ph.D. in cognitive science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she eventually started her own horse-training business after many years of training horses at a large stable. She also has participated in various equestrian competitions.
Chizuko Amacho (translation)
Chizuko Amacho is an Japanese–English translator and a graduate of the Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Science, Kobe University.
Hiroyuki Mochida (editorial cooperation)
Hiroyuki Mochida is a representative of the Hiroyuki Mochida Horsemanship Study Center and director of the Japan Horse Groundwork Association. An authority on natural horsemanship, he holds diverse workshops on racehorses and horseriding throughout Japan.
Pan Rolling, Inc. (publisher)
Pan Rolling, Inc. mainly publishes investment-related books but also develops and sells computer software, organizes investment seminars and operates websites to sell products. The company also offers a wide range of translated books, from classical works to advanced research.
This book compiles the latest academic studies and research to reveal the roles of horses in ancient societies, thereby contributing to our understanding of ancient horse culture from diverse viewpoints, drawing on fields including archaeology and historical language study (philology). Its detailed coverage of extensive fields as well as its consolidation of wide-ranging research shines new light on the diversity and profundity of horse culture. The book was so highly evaluated that this special award was created since only one Equine Culture Award is presented each year.
President of the Society for the Study of Ancient Transportation, specializing in ancient Japanese history.
Professor at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University, specializing in ancient Japanese history.
Advisor for the Cultural Properties Division, Taisei Engineering Co., Ltd, specializing in Japanese archaeology.
2021 JRA Trainers Ranking
2021 JRA Jockeys Ranking