All About the Nakayama Grand Jump
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Learn more about one of Japan’s most popular horse racing events, the Nakayama Grand Jump!

Horses are naturally gifted with athleticism, making them the perfect companion for adventurous people. For the longest time, people have loved riding horses in tourist attractions or across fields. With the impressive speed and strength of horses, people were smart enough to make horseracing a sport. 

 

Horse racing grew really popular across the world. With the amazing connection between jockeys and the horses, this sport became more interesting to watch. Given the fact that places like America and Europe are known for hosting the most prestigious horse race events, other countries have also managed to host some of their own. One of them is Japan, who has managed to make their own major horse racing events.

 

Among the popular races in Japan is the Nakayama Grand Jump. If you haven’t heard about this event before, then have a closer look and understanding of what it's all about.

 

What is the Nakayama Grand Jump

The Nakayama Grand Jump is one of the world’s top steeplechases that is well renowned for its prestige, difficulty, and prize money. This event is open for Thoroughbreds that are aged four years or older. Unlike other jump races, this event takes place at Nakayama Racecourse which only measures 4,250 metres or about 2 ⅝ miles. What amazes its viewers is how the event follows a twisted path on the inner part of Nakayama’s racing oval. 

 

Another thing that makes this event really popular and special is that there are only a handful of horses that were bred for jump races in the country. However, the event remains to be open for international contenders. 

 

The event has managed to be included among the richest steeplechase races in the world. In Japan, this event may be classified under horse racing G1 or a Grade 1 steeplechase race. There are only two G1 steeplechase races held in the turf, this one and the Nakayama Daishogai which is also played in the same racecourse. 

 

Event details

 

When it is held 

The Nakayama Grand Jump is very much awaited by its fans every middle of April. This event is always held a day before the Satsuki Sho which is the first leg of Japan’s Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing. 

 

Where it is held

This horse race event is always held at the Nakayama Racecourse. This stadium has a capacity of 165,000 people. Its surface can also accommodate grass, dirt, and jump racing. 

 

The jump course of this racecourse has a turf surface. Considering the fact that the venue can be configured in several ways, the organizers of the Nakayama Grand jump can definitely make their event setting more distinguishable compared to the Nakayama Daishogai.

 

How it is played

Jump races are an enjoyable test of stamina and jumping ability for horses. With that, viewers of the Nakayama Grand jump can expect that this event will be full of obstacles. True enough, this event features a total of 12 gates (including a three-foot-high gate), a 12-foot-long water jump, and the five-foot-high Grand Hedge. 

 

During the course of the game, the dirt course is crossed several times until the final lap. On the final lap, the horses will still have about 1200 metres remaining. In that part of the race, the horses will have to enter the outer turf course. There, they will have to make the final three jumps that are needed to finish the race. 

 

How it started

The Nakayama Grand Jump started in 1934 when it was founded by the Nakayama Racing Club. Back then, it was called Daishogai Tokubetsu. In 1948, the event was renamed Nakayama Daishogai Spring Race. However, it was in 1999 that the event was renamed Nakayama Grand Jump. The reason for this is so that it would not be confused with the Daishogai Autumn Run which also takes place at the same venue. 

 

Initially, the race was limited to Japanese participants only. As it grew more popular, the organizers decided to start accommodating international competitors so that the event can grow further. 

 

To date, the event is now known for being one of the most difficult steeplechase races in the world. Aside from that, one of the factors that made it more popular is its massive grand prize that can amount to more than $1 million. 

 

The winners 

Since 1999, the event has already seen a lot of impressive performances from its participants. With that, here is a quick list of the horses who won the event ever since it was renamed. To make you learn more about them, we also decided to include some information about them during the time that they had won. 

 

  • 1999 - Mejiro Pharaoh 

 

The inaugural winner of the Nakayama Grand Jump held a record of 8-3-2-28 during his career. After he won the event, Mejiro Pharaoh continued to play until 2000. He was last seen playing at the Shunrei Jump Stakes. 

 

Age 

6 years old

Jockey

Takashi Oehara 

Trainer 

Yokichi Okubo

Owner 

Mejiro Shoji co.

Breeder

Mejiro Stud

Sire 

Allez Millord

Dam 

Mejiro Stork

Time 

4 minutes and 56.2 seconds

 

  • 2000 to 2001 - Gokai

 

Born in 1993, Gokai became a well-renowned horse during his prime. Aside from having won two titles in the Nakayama Grand Jump, it also held the titles for other major jump races. Some of these events are Tokyo High Jump, Tokyo Autumn Jump, and the Fukushima Jump Stakes. 

 

Age 

7/8 years old

Jockey

Yoshiyuki Yokoyama

Trainer 

Hiroyuki Gohara

Owner 

Kei Yoshihashi

Breeder 

Taihei Stud Farm Co Ltd

Sire 

Judge Angelucci (USA)

Dam

Yu Miroku (Japan)

Time 

4 minutes and 43.1 seconds (2000)

4 minutes and 52.3 seconds  (2001)

 

  • 2002 - St Steven (New Zealand)

 

St Steven was the first international horse to have won this event. During the time when he won, he bagged home a total prize of $1.26 USD. He also held a record of 70-15-6-4 during his racing career. 

 

Age 

8 years old

Jockey

Craig Thornton

Trainer 

John Wheeler

Owner 

John Wheeler

Sire 

Hula Town (NZ)

Dam

Gabby (NZ)

Time 

4 minutes and 50.9 seconds 

 

  • 2003 - Big Taste

 

Born in 1998, Japan-based Big Taste bagged home the title for the 2003 season, successfully preventing St Steven from a back to back win. After his retirement, he held a record of 25-6-3-3.  

 

Age 

5 years old

Jockey

Katsuyoshi Tsuneishi

Trainer 

Tadashi Nakao

Owner 

Big co.

Breeder 

Northern Farm

Sire 

Northern Taste

Dam

Crafty Wife

Time 

4 minutes and 48.9 seconds 

 

  • 2004 - Blandices 

 

Born in 1997, this brown horse managed to win two major titles when it was 7 years old. Three months before it won the title in the Nakayama Grand Jump, Blandices also managed to bag home the title of the Nakayama Daishogai in January 2004. 

 

Age 

7 years old

Jockey

Takashi Oehara

Trainer 

Tatsuo Fujiwara

Owner 

Sunday Racing Co. Ltd.

Breeder 

Northern Farm

Sire 

Sakura Bakushin O

Dam

Maison Blanche

Time 

4 minutes and 47 seconds 

 

  • 2005 to 2007 - Karasi (Australia)

 

Karasi, born in 1995, is a champion steeplechase horse that was bred in Ireland. He became more popular as he became the first three-time champion of the Nakayama Grand Jump. Aside from that title, he was also inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2018. 

 

Age 

10 to 12 years old

Jockey

Brett Scott

Trainer 

Eric Musgrove

Owner 

Pearse Morgan

Breeder 

Aga Khan Studs

Sire 

Kahyasi (IRE)

Dam

Karamita (IRE)

Time 

4 minutes and 50.4 seconds (2005)

4 minutes and 50.8 seconds (2006)

4 minutes and 50.4 seconds (2007)

 

  • 2008 - Maruka Rascal 

 

Maruka Rascal held a record of 10-2-3-17 when he retired. The last race where he played was at the Nakayama Daishogai. Today, this black gelding is already 19 years old. 

 

Age 

6 years old

Jockey

Makoto Nishitani

Trainer 

Yutaka Matsumoto

Owner 

Kawacho Sangyo

Breeder 

Shadai Farm 

Sire 

Grass Wonder 

Dam

Tre Ensemble 

Time 

4 minutes and 57.7 seconds 

 

  • 2009 - Spring Ghent 

 

2009 Champion Spring Ghent held a record of 10-4-5-31 before he retired. His last race was on December 21, 2013 at the Nakayama Daishogai which is also held at the famous Nakayama Racecourse.

 

Age 

6 years old

Jockey

Yuzo Shirahama

Trainer 

Akihiko Nomura

Owner 

Haruo Kato

Breeder 

Haruo Kato 

Sire 

Opera House 

Dam

Spring Madonna 

Time 

4 minutes and 49.1 seconds 

 

  • 2010 - Merci Mont Saint 

 

Born in 2005, this 16-year-old has managed to earn a total of ¥98.1 million during his career. He also held a record of 2-1-0-22 after his last race on April 13, 2013 at the Nakayama Grand Jump. 

 

Age 

5 years old

Jockey

Yosuke Kono

Trainer 

Kohei Take

Owner 

Mitsuishi Farm

Breeder 

Mitsuishi Farm 

Sire 

Admire Vega

Dam

Kanesho Dia

Time 

5 minutes and 3.5 seconds

 

  • 2011 - Meiner Neos

 

Meiner Neos is the foal of the popular Thoroughbred racehorse named Stay Gold. Similar to his sire, Meiner Neos also became an award-winning colt, just like his brothers. He also has an impressive record. His last race was at the Nakayama Grand Jump in 2013. 

 

Age 

8 years old

Jockey

Daichi Shibata

Trainer 

Ryuichi Inaba

Owner 

K Thoroughbred Club Ruffian

Breeder

Big Red Farm 

Sire 

Stay Gold

Dam 

Meine Pretender

Time 

4 minutes and 51.6 seconds 

 

  • 2012 - Majesty Bio 

 

This 14-year-old brown horse is also one of the most popular horses in the country due to its impressive wins. Aside from having won the Nakayama Grand Jump when he was 5, he also took home the title of the Nakayama Daishogai when he was just 4 years old. 

 

Age 

5 years old

Jockey

Daichi Shibata

Trainer 

Tsuyoshi Tanaka

Owner 

Bio Co. Ltd.

Breeder 

Hashimoto Bokujo

Sire 

Opera House 

Dam

High Grade Bio

Time 

5 minutes and 2.9 seconds

 

  • 2013 - Blackstairmountain (Ireland)

 

Blackstairmountain is the first horse who was trained in Europe that won the race. This dark-coated bay gelding is the foal of award-winning Imperial Ballet who once held the title of the Royal Hunt Cup. Having started his racing career in 2009, this horse has already managed to have major wins under its name.  

 

Age 

8 years old

Jockey

Ruby Walsh

Trainer 

Willie Mullins

Owner 

Susannah Ricci

Breeder 

Mrs J M Mullins

Sire 

Imperial Ballet 

Dam

Sixhills

Time 

4 minutes and 50.5 seconds 

 

  • 2014 - Apollo Maverick

 

Born in 2009, this 15-year-old horse is well-known when it comes to jump races. Prior to having won the title in the Nakayama Grand Jump in 2014, it also bagged home two major titles in 2013. Those races are namely, Nakayama Daishogai and Tokyo Jump Stakes.

 

Age 

5 years old

Jockey

Yusuke Igarashi

Trainer 

Masahiro Horii

Owner 

Apollo Thoroughbred Club

Breeder 

Tomonori Fujimoto

Sire 

Apollo Kingdom 

Dam

Omega Fastar

Time 

4 minutes and 50.7 seconds 

 

  • 2015 - Up To Date 

 

Up To Date is a grey stallion who was born in 2010. Having started his race career in 2012, this horse already has nine major titles to his name. Overall, he holds an impressive racing record even if he has already been handled by different owners. 

 

Age 

5 years old

Jockey

Mitsuaki Hayashi

Trainer 

Shozo Sasaki

Owner 

Hiroe Imanishi 

Breeder 

North Hills Management Co Ltd

Sire 

Kurofune

Dam

Linear Muse

Time 

4 minutes and 46.6 seconds 

 

  • 2016 to 2020 - Oju Chosan 

 

Oju Chosan, a 10-year-old horse, is the first one to have ever won five consecutive titles in the Nakayama Grand Jump. Despite its young age, he has already managed to have 15 different major titles under its name. To date, he also holds the fastest time in the competition after having broken the record that was formerly set by Gokai. 

 

Age 

5 to 9 years old

Jockey

Shinichi Ishigami

Trainer 

Shoichiro Wada

Owner 

Chosan Co Ltd

Breeder 

Naoyoshi Nagayama, Bando Bokujo

Sire 

Stay Gold

Dam

Shadow Silhouette

Time 

4 minutes and 49.64 seconds (2016)

4 minutes and 50.8 seconds (2017)

4 minutes and 43 seconds (2018)

4 minutes and 47.6 seconds (2019)

5 minutes and 2.9 seconds (2020)

 

Overview

Overall, the horses and the jockeys at the Nakayama Grand Jump are all amazing. With their ability to conquer all the obstacles in the racecourse, it is no doubt that many people really get interested to see what can unfold every season. So, what are you waiting for? Make sure to wait for April and place your bets on your favourite horse!