While North America and Europe are home to most of horse racing’s prestigious events, people in other parts of the world enjoy wagering on the equines as well. That includes Asia, where the Nakayama Grand Jump steeplechase is one of Japan’s biggest annual sporting events.
The Nakayama Grand Jump rivals the world’s other top steeplechases when it comes to prestige, difficulty, and prize money. Open to Thoroughbreds aged four and older, its relatively short distance (2 ⅝ miles, less than two-thirds the length of the Grand National steeplechase) makes it a compelling test of both a horse’s agility and speed.
Sound like a fun event to bet on? You’re right. But before you wager on any of the action, be sure to read through this Nakayama Grand Jump betting guide. We’ll discuss the best ways to bet on the race, describe the track, look at the event’s record holders, examine the Grand Jump history, and more.
Let’s get started.
The Nakayama Grand Jump is held near the middle of April every year at Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, which is located half an hour east of Tokyo. The race is always held one day before the Satsuki Sho, the first leg of Japan’s Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing.
The 2018 event took place on Saturday, April 14.
It shouldn’t be difficult to find betting sites that offer wagering on the Nakayama Grand Jump. When events are this prestigious, betting dollars are sure to follow, and online sportsbooks are happy to accommodate anyone looking to bet on the race for the first time.
In fact, the hardest part for beginners looking to bet on the Nakayama Grand Jump may be simply selecting the right site to bet with. Just like traditional businesses vary when it comes to customer service, value, and reliability, online betting sites do as well. Before you deposit any of your hard-earned money with a betting site, it’s critical to know that you’re dealing with a reputable sportsbook who will actually pay you when you win.
Fortunately, we’ve already done a lot of the homework for you. Here are the betting sites we recommend most for betting on the Nakayama Grand Jump, based on our years of experience in the industry.
Repeat champions have been fairly common in the Nakayama Grand Jump over the past two decades. Three horses have combined to win eight of the 20 titles during that time, including three-time champions Oju Chosan and Karasi.
Here’s a look at all the winners since the event was renamed the Grand Jump in 1999.
Nakayama Racecourse is nearly a century old and rivals Tokyo Racecourse when it comes to feature courses near Japan’s capital city. Nakayama can seat more than 165,000 people and is capable of accommodating grass, dirt, and jump racing.
The jump course at Nakayama has a turf surface and can be configured in several different ways, which allows the Nakayama Grand Jump to distinguish itself from the Nakayama Daishogai. The Grand Jump features 12 gates, including a three-foot-high, 12-foot-long water jump and the five-foot-high Grand Hedge. However, the race is nowhere near as dangerous or challenging as it was in its former days of the Nakayama Daishogai, when several fences were brick walls that were five feet high.
Although the modern-day Nakayama Grand Jump has only been around since 1999, there have already been several impressive accomplishments that earned their place in the Grand Jump record books.
Three-time defending champion Oju Chosan set the record for the fastest time in Nakayama Grand Jump history when he posted a 4:43 clocking to win the 2018 race, breaking the previous standard of 4:43.1 set by 2000 champion Gokai.
Those two times were the only occasions on which the winner of the Grand Jump completed the course in under 4:46.
Though favorites have dominated the Nakayama Grand Jump in recent years (four of the last seven events have been won by the top-rated horse, including two of Oju Chosan’s victories), the dark horses have had their day at Nakayama as well.
Merci Mont Saint paid better than 38:1 in 2010 when he beat out Open Garden by a neck. Another big payout came in 2013 courtesy of Blackstairmountain, who paid higher than 26:1 when he finished half a length ahead of second-place Rikiai Kurofune. Two years later, Up To Date was 12:1 when he finished more than 30 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.
Brett Scott and Shinichi Ishigami share the record for most Nakayama Grand Jump titles won by a jockey, each collecting three. However, all three wins by each jockey came aboard one horse, as Scott rode Karasi to his three straight wins from 2005-07, while Ishigami was aboard Oju Chosan from 2016-18. Yoshiyuki Yokoyama is also a multi-time winner with the same horse, leading Gokai to victory in 2000-01.
Two other jockeys have ridden two different horses to victory at Nakayama. Takashi Oehara won atop Mejiro Pharaoh in 1999 and then on Blandices in 2004, while Daichi Shibata claimed consecutive titles in 2011-12 riding Meiner Neos and Majesty Bio, respectively.
The record for most wins by a trainer at the Nakayama Grand Jump is also directly linked to the most dominant horses in the history of the event. Eric Musgrove (Karasi) and Shoichiro Wada (Oju Chosan) were both the trainer of their respective horse for their three consecutive victories, so they share the record for most training wins.
No trainer in the history of the Grand Jump has yet to produce more than one champion horse.
The Nakayama Grand Jump was originally founded in 1934 by the Nakayama Racing Club, which titled the race the Daishogai Tokubetsu. In 1948, it became known as the Nakayama Daishogai spring race but was renamed once again to the Grand Jump in 1999 to avoid being confused with the Daishogai autumn run that is contested on a different configuration.
At first, the Grand Jump was limited to Japanese horses only, but organizers soon opened it up to international competitors in an effort to grow the race. Five horses from outside the country have won the Grand Jump since 1999, including three-time champion Karasi (Australia).
The Grand Jump is known for its uniquely winding course, which makes it one of the most difficult steeplechases in the world. It’s also one of the most lucrative, featuring a prize purse of nearly $2 million US.
At under three miles long and with numerous challenging obstacles on a tightly-wound track, the Nakayama Grand Jump is a uniquely compelling race for both spectators and gamblers.
Even though several horses have dominated the race in its short history, the nature of steeplechase always leaves the door open for a surprising champion and the chance of winning a dark horse wager at double-digit returns!