Quarantine stable helps lure foreign horses

Races between Japanese horses and their foreign rivals may heat up again soon thanks to the addition of an on-site quarantine facility and a bulging purse 25% bigger than last year.

The facility, called the International Stable, comprises an oval area filled with six neatly built brick barns located near the third corner of Tokyo Racecourse. Completed in May, the new barns feature a brick-like wall design and accommodate two horses each. Encircling them is a six-meter-wide, 292.6-meter-long dirt exercise track and flowerbeds with red, yellow and purple blooms, giving the facility a sophisticated look. On Oct. 1, the International Stable was authorized by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry to operate as a quarantine facility.

The stable was built with a purpose of helping reverse the trend of fewer horses from overseas participating in Japanese races. As those crossing national borders are required to undergo quarantine, horses previously had to be held for seven days at facilities in either Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, or Miki, Hyogo Prefecture, before they could enter racecourses. This meant that they had to travel twice after arriving in Japan. Horses were thus forced to adapt to changes in environments twice, which resulted in increased mental burden on them. The situation was one of the factors behind the recent decline in international participation in horse racing in Japan.

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