The 2016 Japan Cup was a great race with the favourite leading virtually all the way ridden by the almost pop star jockey Yatake Take. 130,000 people get easily absorbed into this massive complex. We had personal desks in the relatively new stand with our own person tv that could switch to the mounting yard, the races or the races in other parts of Japan. Filling in the tickets to use the betting machines took a little getting used to, but once mastered was not an issue. The machines have an English option and are really easy to use. For those less adventurous people there are about 4 windows behind the seating area manned(or womanned) by very helpful English Speaking ladies who will take your verbal bet. Our seats were part of the only 48 International Seats made available by the JRA. Locals have to enter a ballot to get Grandstand tickets, so they are much prized. In Australia Tailormade Travel have a the only access to these tickets as far as I know and they do it very well..The seats are about 200m from the finishing line and designed so that everyone sitting down gets a good view of the race. The betting area is just up behind the seating area and rarely too busy. Hard to imagine how many people were there, yet it seemed so quiet. You van walk through the stand to a balcony where you can watch the horses parading. With 11 races onn the day, they really keep it moving. The horses for the next race are out parading before the prior race is finished. It is all go, go ,go. Betting cuts off 1min before starting time and several people missed getting a bet on because of this. Horse numbers are diifferent to Australia. Horses numbers are determined by the stall they have drawn, so you could have a top weight carrying number 18 and a lightweight, no.1. The track is wide and spacious with a straight close to 600m. At the 400m mark it rises suddenly around 4m and leaders often compound.There is a very good souvenir shop on level 2 right down the end of the stand towards the JRA Museum, which is worth a visit.The racing stops after race 4 for a 50min lunch break. My experience is it is better to eat at some other time when not so busy. There are numerous eating places ranging from kiosk to restaurants at the back of the stand and particularly on the lower levels. If coming for the cup it is good to go to the raceday on the Saturday to familiarise yourself in readiness for the big day. Access by train is very easy, albeit busy on the return. The start of the race is in front of the main stand. The rituals are great to watch. The favourites get enormous cheers as do some of the pin up jockeys. The crowd starts clapping, the starter heads for his starting box which is then elevated as he waves a red flag to signify all is ready to go. The crowd roars. It is blood tingling Betting stops. The band on course strikes up and 130,000 people all twirl their race guides in the air..something to see. The horses move in much faster than in Australia and there is another huge roar as the starter let's them go. When the horses enter the home straight the noise of the crowd is amazing and builds to a crescendo as the leaders break for the line. I hve experienced this race 5 times, but the emotion always gets me..you feel you have seen something special. My advice, go if you get a chance. On a clear day, you can look to your right and there is Mt Fuji.Not this year however.
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