Some statistics for you: 11 NAR horses have run 36 times this year, a figure boosted by eight runs from Phosphorus alone, six for Shine Tiara, and two horses on five outings each. Take those out of the equation, and the value-for-money aspect on the other seven horses looks dismal - almost as dismal as the 19 outings from the seven JRA nags, for 12 of them came from three horses (four races each), meaning the other four have run just seven times between them this year. For comparison, of the six UK horses, one still has to make its debut, while Blacklister has ran 12 times already this year, Ettie Hart is on nine runs, Sayesse on seven, and Masterson and Lillyput on six apiece - a total of 40 runs so far this year!
Which offers the best value? No contest. 55 races from 18 horses in Japan, where purchase and running costs are very high, versus 40 runs from six in the UK - an average of 6.67 races per horse, against 3.05 in Japan. Ah, but what about win rates and the huge prize money in Japan? Umm. Well, a 0-2-0-17 record in JRA brings in next to nothing compared to sky-high running costs! And there's no money in NAR anyway, especially when JRA interlopers take all the big pots, while a 5-6-3-22 record doesn't even come close to covering costs (nowhere near, in fact), and that's before taking the silly purchase prices into account. Despite some of the horses costing about the same to buy as a month's keeping fee in Japan (that is not an exaggeration, by the way), the UK win-place-show rate is nonetheless a highly-respectable 6-6-3-25, and, unlike NAR, the need to win just to break even doesn't exist. For me at least, visible effort is more important than winning, and again, the UK comes out ahead - the majority of trainers in Japan seem to be happy simply making up numbers to fill starting gates. Add in the extremely poor resale values in Japan on club retirement against a generally good return on the English horses, and the reasons for staying in Japanese racing decrease even further. For me, the few remaining reasons disappeared completely after the Tokyo Derby, but the figures here speak for themselves.
PS. Within a couple of hours of putting this up, Another Door has just been declared a runner at Monbetsu on Wednesday - well, blow me down with a feather! Assuming it does run, that takes the average entry up to 3.11 races per horse this year. But there's a catch, of course. Even in the highly unlikely event of it winning (it would have to improve by a staggering amount), the minuscule pot still isn't large enough to cover the monthly keeping fees, let alone start eating into that hefty 16,000,000 yen purchase price! Although it's good to see something running - at last! - it's still a rather pathetic situation.