Keiba! Studying Horse Racing in Japan
Each year the Japan Association for International Horse Racing (JAIR) invites the two racing clubs, Philippine Racing Club (PRC) and Manila Jockey Club (MJC,) to nominate their candidates to attend their ARF General Study Program. The program, which lasts about a week to ten days, has a few hours of classroom study about racetrack operations and a lot of travel to racetracks, stallion stations, equine hospitals, and other racing institutions in Japan. Participants from all over Asia come together to learn and bond.
In 2007, JAIR chose PRC’s Mr. Rommel Fernandez to attend. He writes about his experiences in the most advanced racing nation in the world.
COMMENTS ON THE 2007 ARF GENERAL STUDY PROGRAM
By Rommel Fernandez (Member, Board of Stewards, Philippine Racing Club)
First of all, I would like to thank JAIR President and CEO Dr. Naoaki Koike and staff for the warm reception my co-participants and I experienced during the ten-day study program in Japan. I was amazed at how disciplined, well-mannered, and hard-working the JAIR staff was. They exceeded my expectations.
Schedules were followed to the minute and no time was wasted during the program. The modules were detailed enough to become reference for the future. Although some lectures were too long, such as the one on Customer Service, since we could have easily read it, still it was very much appreciated.
Participants of the 2007 ARF Study Program in Japan. Rommel Fernandez, in blue shirt, is in the front row, center. (June 2007)
Much was learned. The brochures that were handed out will very well serve their purpose. I gave the “Stallions” brochures to our Racing Manager (Mr. Dan Valmonte) for other horseowners to browse. I hope someday Japan will export thoroughbreds to the Philippines.
The tours of the facilities of the Collation Center, Tokyo Race Course, Hokkaido, Miho Training Center, Green Channel, and others, simply amazed me, especially the 68m x 13m gigantic screen at the Tokyo Race Course. It showed how serious JRA (Japan Racing Association) and the Japanese people are with their commitment to the industry we are all involved in.
Tokyo Racecourse’s “Turfvision”. (June 2007)
The train station strategically set at the entrance of the course shows that the convenience of racetrack patrons is paramount. All in all, the course is not only environmental-friendly, it is also user-friendly. The Excel Floor of the Korakuen Betting Center is in a class of its own. We have a total of 339 off-track betting stations in the Philippines but none of this kind. No expense is spared when it comes to the development of racing. The equipment is the best I’ve seen so far.
Rommel with Ms. Reiko Okabe, host of the racing broadcast over Green Channel. (June 2007)
The only thing that bothered me was Japan’s draft horse racing. I had never seen horses subjected to that kind of hardship. My heart goes out to those one-ton horses.
In draft racing, horses pull a 500kg to 1,000kg load over 100 meters. It is peculiar to Hokkaido, in northern Japan. Here, horses exercise in Obihira, Hokkaido. (Photo by nytimes)
My participation in the study program showed me what we should strive to achieve locally. Perhaps one day, we shall reach this goal. ***
Rommel at the JRA Hidaka Training Farm. (June 2007)
Japan’s champion horse Deep Impact shares space with Rommel and the Singaporean and Thai delegates. (June 2007)
The facade of the JBBA (Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association) stallion barn. (June 2007)
Famed European G1 stakes winner Rock of Gibraltar now stands at stud in Japan. (June 2007)