Japan opens riding ranks to foreigners
NEW Zealand jockey Lisa Cropp will become the first foreigner to obtain a licence to ride in Japan for an extended period, a sports newspaper said yesterday.
The daily Sankei Sports said Cropp would get a three-month licence next month and ride on June 18 in the second race at Chukyo racecourse in central Japan. It said that at first she would be riding Japanese horses trained by Hiroki Sakiyama.
The trainer was unavailable to comment on the report and a spokesman for the Japan Racing Association (JRA) said only that it has yet to issue such a licence to Cropp.
Last year, the JRA decided it would issue special jockey licences for foreign riders valid for up to three months, starting this year, as part of its efforts to liberalise the lucrative sport.
In the past, foreign jockeys were only permitted to race on a one-off basis in special events, including international races such as the Japan Cup.