Nakayama Grand Jump

History of the Nakayama Grand Jump

Nakayama Grand JumpThe Nakayama Grand Jump is a Japanese horse racing steeplechase that is held in mid-April every year at Nakayama Racecourse. The race was moved to July in 2011 following the Great Japanese Earthquake, but has now returned to the day before the running of the Satsuki Sho, the first leg of Japan’s Triple Crown. It is for four-year-olds and upwards over a distance of almost two and three-quarter miles.

Online betting on the 2013 Nakayama Grand Jump is available for real money at William Hill sportsbook, along with almost all major horse races.

The prize money is over $1.5million, making it one of the most valuable steeplechase events anywhere in the world. The origins of the race go back to 1934 when the Nakayama Racing Club created the Daishogai Tokubetsu. It became the Nakayama Daishogai from 1948 before adopting its current name and Grade 1 status in 1999. It is one of only two Grade 1 steeplechases on Japanese turf, the other is the Nakayama Daishogai which is run over the same course in December but in a different configuration. The inaugural running of the event was open to Japanese horses only but it was quickly opened up to international runners. For the last three years there have been no challengers from abroad as the race continues to strive for worldwide recognition.

The race is contested over a winding path on the racecourse interior over a series of jumps, inclines and declines, making it a unique test of the steeplechaser. The race consists of 12 jumps over nine obstacles including 5 up-and-downs over banks. The biggest challenge is a brush fence that measures 1.6 meters in height and 2.4 meters in width. The volume and height of obstacles were reduced in recent years to prevent serious accidents due to increased speed, but the race is still one of the most challenging steeplechase races in the world. The dirt course is crossed at several points with horses entering the turf course along the backstretch for the last three jumps.

The most famous winner of the Grand Jump was Karasi who won for three consecutive seasons (2005 – 2007)

Foreign-trained Runners

Foreign-trained runners have enjoyed considerable success in the Grand Jump. The Irish-bred Boca Boca was trained in France just failed to catch Japan’s Gokai by 3/4 length in the first year that the event was open to international competitors. The New Zealand-bred Rand arrived in Japan unbeaten after five races over fences in his homeland. He won the Pegasus Stakes at Nakayama and was made favourite for the 2001 Nakayama Grand Jump but fell over the frontrunner during the race. He was re-united with his rider but could get no closer than seventh as Gokai claimed a second consecutive win.

In 2002, another New Zealand-bred horse, St. Steven, became the first foreign-trained jumper to win the Grand Jump. He had trialled with a sixth-place finish in the Pegasus Jump. Karasi, an Irish-bred from Australia trained by Eric Musgrove dominated the Grand Jump for three seasons following eyecatching trials in the Pegasus Stakes (third, second and third).

Most Recent Runnings

In 2011 the race was won by Meiner Neos trained by Ryuichi Inaba and ridden by Daichi Shibata. The eight-year-old defeated Merci A Time (a 9-year-old by Chief Bearheart) by one and a quarter lengths, ridden by Yoshiyuki Yokoyama.

In 2012 Top Japanese jumper Majesty Bio won the Nakayama Grand Jump for the combination of Tsuyoshi Tanaka and Daichi Shibata, running out an eight-length winner to the delight of the crowd. The five-year-old also won the Daishogai in December, as well as the Pegasus Jump in March, making him clearly the best steeplechaser in Japan. He had won two graded jumps races in 2011. Already a firm favourite with the crowd, he was sent off at 1-2 and never looked in serious danger as he defeated Basel River in testing conditions.

He was sired by top European middle-distance horse, Opera House and was winning his seventh race in 24 starts. Those statistics mask his true ability as he has now won or been placed in ten from eleven starts over fences. He has also proved very versatile, winning on a variety of different surfaces. His Trainer Tsuyoshi Tanaka was highly successful as a jump jockey, and, with regular rider Daichi Shibata, they were completing back-to-back victories in the race following Meiner Neos.

Betting on the Nakayama Grand Jump

With the Nakayama Grand Jump forging a name for itself as an international steeplechasing event, there are plenty of racebooks happy to offer to prices as the big race approaches. Its current prize fund compares favourably with that of the Aintree Grand National so it is only a matter of time before more international raiders are tempted by the huge pot. The Pegasus is established as a key trial and it pays to follow course form with previous race experience invaluable over this unconventional track.

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