Japan: Japan can be a hard place to crack for a visiting jockey so anyone invited to appear on the prime-time show Honoo-no Taiiku-kai TV will know they have arrived.
In the TBS gameshow members of the public take on sports stars at a number of challenges including balancing a tray of ping-pong balls at the same time as trying to stay aboard a bucking bronco.
This weekend’s show, recorded before they had completed their recent stints in Japan, features Mickaelle Michel and Lyle Hewitson among the guests.
Michel, now back in her native France, built a large following in Japan during a hugely successful two-month riding stint in which she rode 30 winners to set a new record for the most wins by an overseas jockey on a two- or three-month licence on Japan’s second-tier NAR circuit.
Dual South African champion Hewitson, who cut short his Hong Kong contract to try his hand in Japan, signed off from the lucrative JRA circuit last weekend with a five-winner haul over two days in Tokyo to end his stay with 19 wins.
Michel and Hewitson are following in the footsteps of Japanese legend Yutaka Take, who appeared on the same show about three years ago and showed that not only can he balance on a racehorse, he is equally adept on a bucking bronco. Christophe Lemaire and Mirco Demuro also featured on Take’s team on the wacky gameshow.
• Learn more about Japanese racing at the JRA website