Good sports: Mickaelle Michel and Lyle Hewitson join Japanese gameshow madness

Mickaelle Michel: set to become the latest celebrity sports star to guest on cult TV show.
Photo: Masakazu Takahashi

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.

France: Happy homecoming – winner for Mickaelle Michel on first ride back

Japan: it’s horse racing, but not as we know it – watch these wacky races

Japan: Mickaelle Michel amazed by her record-breaking feats in Japan

Japan: South African star Lyle Hewitson right back in the winning groove

Australia: Fabergino, the mare worth flying 9,000 miles to watch

 • Learn more about Japanese racing at the JRA website