It was in 1981 when the Japan Cup was first held at Tokyo Racecourse to see how Japanese horses would fare against challengers from other countries. That first race was in the path of a 5-year-old mare from America, Mairzy Doates, ridden by Cash Asmussen.
The horse was sent off fifth favourite, but not only did she win, she also set a new course record for the 2,400m race of 2:25.3 seconds. That time has since shortened over the years, showing just how much better the horses have gotten in the race. But the Japanese racing fraternity was quite concerned at the time about whether local runners would ever be able to achieve a world-class standard.
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