Ruby Walsh: Japan is like the Premier League of racing – the jockeys drive Hummers!

Ruby and Fran feel like rockstars when they're in Japan.

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Royal Ascot 2022 brought us thrilling action involving some of the best horses from around the globe – including the USA, Australia and Japan.

Shahryar arrived from the Land of the Rising Sun in hope of winning the Prince of Wales’ Stakes, which was the first £1m race held at the meeting.

The winner of the Japanese Derby fell just short, with State Of Rest scooping the prize pot.

Despite not shining at Royal Ascot 2022, ex-jockeys Ruby Walsh and Fran Berry insist Japanese horse racing is another world.

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Ruby won everything in his illustrious career, including the Nakayama Grand Jump on Blackstairmountain in 2013 – and his experiences there left a lasting impression.

Speaking on the From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, he said: “I’ve been to Japan a couple of times and you’re treated like rockstars over there.

“Tokyo is the main track but I was at Nakayama so the second string track. Jockey’s have to quarantine after 8pm the day before racing but as I walked into the jockey’s hostel car park, I thought I was walking into a Premier League ground with the cars I was looking at.

“It was incredible what the jockeys were driving in Japan. There was even a couple of Hummers!”

Fran rode a few Group 2 winners over in Japan and was back in East Asia ahead of the Japan Cup, which takes place this November.

And our podcast special guest reckons Japanese racing could be the future.

Fran said: “I was quite happy to get recognised! I’m two stone heavier than I was last time I was over there and I had a mask on. I’ll take that! I obviously don’t look as bad as I thought I did.

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“It’s good to get back over there. That’s the future of racing in some respects!”

Ruby wasn’t won over by his fellow podcaster’s claim he was over there for the Japan Cup, insisting he was only seeing the Fran B fan club.

He said: “Don’t let him throw you off. He went to Japan to meet the fan club. His loyal followers were waiting for him!”

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