Is there a better thoroughbred racing concept and execution than the Arima Kinen, the 65th running of which is set to take place over 2,500 metres at the world’s second largest racecourse, Nakayama, on Sunday?

The Arima Kinen in Japan is everything The All-Star Mile in Australia aspires to be, but whereas The Everest is better than The Pegasus from which it took its inspiration, The All-Star Mile is several lengths behind the Arima Kiren.

Thoroughbred racing fan engagement in Japan is the envy of every other jurisdiction in the world. Last year, Almond Eye topped the Arima Kinen popularity contest with 109,885 votes before the recently retired superstar, which many private handicappers rate as 2020’s best galloper, put up the worst performance of her career in finishing ninth, beaten 11 lengths by the winner, Cox Plate champion Lys Gracieux. This year, Chrono Genesis became the first thoroughbred to earn more than 200,000 Arima Kiren votes, and she will be hoping to follow up her success in Japan’s other all-star event, the Takarauka Kinen, which Hanshin hosts every June.

I visited Nakayama shortly after Australian jockey Damian Lane booted home Lys Gracieux in the 2019 Arima Kinen. The racecourse has extensive walkways dotted with murals of Arima Kinen winners, and there is an outdoor area dedicated to the contest, which is the world’s biggest betting race.

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