Japan: The Tokyo City Keiba – also known as Ohi racecourse – played host to a bit of Japanese racing history on Monday when Omega Perfume became the first horse ever to complete a hat-trick in a Japanese G1 event on the Flat.
Only by the skin of his teeth, mind you, as the odds-on favourite just got up in the final strides to beat Casino Fountain by a neck after a sustained duel on the dirt for the Tokyo Daishoten, the sole internationally recognised G1 in Japan not organised by the Japan Racing Association. Italian rider Mirco Demuro partnered Omega Perfume for trainer Shogo Yasuda.
With prize-money of ¥1.36m (about £975,000), the 2,000m (1m2f) contest is staged as part of the NAR (National Association of Racing) circuit, featuring mainly dirt racing overseen by local governments rather than the central government-run JRA.
Second division it may be, but the NAR cannot always be dismissed as second rate. A total of approximately 15,500 individual races are conducted by 14 local governments at 17 racecourses for 1,400 days each year. In non-Covid times, Ohi can attract gates as high as 35,000 on high days and holidays, especially for the wildly popular ‘Twinkle Races’ at night.
The premier track on the NAR circuit, Ohi is located in Shinagawa ward of southern Tokyo, close to the port and about halfway to Haneda Airport from central Shinjuku station.
The venue stages a number of the NAR’s richest races such as the Japan Dirt Derby and JBC Classic, the NAR’s most valuable race in which Omega Perfume was defeated last month by the nation’s top dirt horse, Chrysoberyl.