Jockey’s Funky Uniform

Slowly the leaves have started to turn red and the fresh wind is inviting to take long walks or to find other activities for a day outside. If you are a regular at bookies, you might know that the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – one of the world’s mayor horse races – is held in France at this time of the year. The Japanese horse called Deep Impact ran at this year’s Arc de Triomphe and excited a huge Japanese audience in front of the TV. Although this horse actually won the third prize at the race, we are still not sure if he can keep it or not. This current doping scandal keeps the newspapers busy and is excellent for a chat in your next coffee break! However, we here at PingMag got fascinated by the jockey’s uniforms at the race! Today we introduce some colorful outfits from the biggest racetrack in Japan: Tokyo Racecourse.

Written by Ryoko
Translated by Chiemi

Surprisingly (for myself), I really got into the whole horse racing thing and went to a horse park, visited the Horse Racing Museum and even went to a race to feel the full excitement.

Jockey’s uniform worn by a very successful rider who is said to have won 6000 times! Really!?

Most research was done at the Horse Racing Museum in Fuchu, where the curator showed me around and explained the designs of the jockey’s uniforms.

Japanese Horse Racing

In Japan, there are two different kinds of horse racing: “national horse racing” and “local government racing”. The national horse racing is run by the Japan Racing Association JRA, while the local government racing is run by the administrative divisions of Japan or municipalities.

National horse racing and local government racing

We asked the JRA about the differences of the jockey’s uniforms between the national and the local government racing and found out that there is a clear difference between them.

The colors and patterns of the jockey’s uniforms at national horse races are chosen by the owner of a racehorse. Jockey’s uniforms at local government races are chosen by the jockeys themselves. They can choose either long or short sleeves, but usually jockeys prefer functional long sleeves.


A mannequin wearing a Jockey’s uniform at the museum.

The list of colors of the different uniforms.

Colors and patterns


This pattern is like serrate.

This line goes around like a ring.

Jockey’s uniforms at the national horse race are very colorful, but the patterns seem to be very limited. Actually there are some regulations about designing these uniforms and also the limit of colors you can use is only up to 4.


This is like a sash.

A diamond pattern.

At the local government races, there are quite a lot more colors and patterns available (which can not be used for the national races). Both use nylon as their main material, which is common for tracksuits.

Jockey’s uniforms at the Japan Cup

The Japan Cup is known as the biggest international horse race in Japan, where jockeys wear very bright and stylish uniforms. If you have a close look, you might realize that all these designs originally came from Britain in the 1600s. (They must have had some really good designers back then! I just love those colors and patterns!)

It’s also interesting to look at the taste of the owners of a racehorse (depending on what outfit they chose) and their interpretation of their country as a uniform-design.


some Japanese Jockey uniform designs from the Horse Racing Museum

overall rather un-Japanese colors, but this uniform actually looks like Mount Fuji

This looks a bit like a clown costume… so playful!

unifom with pink cute sleeves

now to some other countries: here a very British Argyle check

Purple and white stripes: elegant gentlemen jockey with a twist note

This doesn’t look very Italian, does it?

This looks like a football uniform to me…

This square pattern uniform looks almost too normal compared to the others

A big diamond pattern in the middle

“EG” are the initials of the owner of the racehorse

this French uniform and…

…this German uniform look like they should be riding for Japan. Funny how you can’t help thinking in country-colors

Australian costume that looks more German…

Compared to Japanese uniforms, other foreign uniforms seem to have more freedom when it comes to design: details like a bow tie or the owner’s initials. The strict Japanese rules also say, that the color of the hat has to be the same as the color of the gate, but in foreign rules the color of hats can also be same as the uniform.

At the racecourse in England


some British jockeys lined up in their colorful costumes

…and their female fans having a pic-nic on the side

At last – my horse racing broadcast!

On weekdays… very quiet!

The racetrack is very quiet on weekdays, but on the day of a race it gets packed rapidly.


Dating spot? Many couples come and meet … the horses.

… and families, too.

Before the race starts, all the horses walk on paddock and you can look at the horses to get a better feeling for who you want to put your money in. Jockeys are busy trying to calm their horses down.


another nice uniform

patting the horse to relax

walking towards the gate

Ready?… Go!!!
So faaaast!!

Congratulations! He is the winner.

The jockey with the funkiest uniform clenches his fist in triumph. Congratulations!

All jockeys were gallant, I must say. Although I could resist and did not bet half my income, I still got excited as to who would win! Watching one horse overtaking the other and running faster and faster… was simply too beautiful to explain. After all this research, I realized, that the jockey’s colorful uniforms play an important part in the whole entertaining of a horse race. If only they would have told me where and how to custom make one of these uniforms for myself….

Now you might think: horse racing is not that relevant to you when walking through Tokyo city!? Well – then let me tell you that JRA just opened a cafe in front

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of LaForet in Harajuku called Paca-Pa. So far it is a cafe project for a limited period of time (from October 10th – December 24th this year) offering a drink while watching the races on a big screen, relaxing in the cosy atmosphere and allowing you to check out the funky uniforms they showcase.

some horses are on the entrance of the Paca-Pa horse racing cafe in Harajuku
Have a drink, have a seat and get excited watching the horses run… well! It’s not the same as a day out at the real races, though…

Thanks to everyone at JRA and the Horse Racing Museum! We uploaded a few more images on our Flickr page – in case you are into horses now, too.

  • Ian Harris

    Hi, nice post, and by the way, Jockey’s don’t wear uniforms, they wear ‘Racing Silks’. Greetings from London, great site, keep up the good work!

  • Cyberpukish

    Why the silk? More aerodynamic?

  • http://www.thefreshscent.com Alex

    In response to Ian Harris’ comment:

    I’m pretty sure this article has been translated from Japanese. So, it might be hard to perfectly nail the ‘Racing Silk’ translation ; )

    Great article.

    Cheers

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    the italians traditionally wear blue in sports because the official color of royalty in the country was blue…so that is where the azzurro comes from : )

    the bow-tie is so funny though!

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  • http://www.doublesupercool.com.au Matt

    The “Australian” silks that look German are actually from New Zealand (NZ has red stars on its flag and is missing the large star underneath the Union Jack, Australia has white stars)

  • sadotsu

    Matt: I didn’t expect anyone else to notice, but thank you for pointing that out.
    I guess you’re an Aussie?

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    Instead of admiring all the colorful and funky costume, i also impressed of their helmet.. It’s like kinda vespa helmet that looked Punk!!

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    Nice spot Matt, I was going to say the same thing. I’m from Australia, we have ‘the race that stops a nation’ on Tuesday – The Melbourne Cup. Looking forward to the day off!!! Keep up the good work. I love Ping!

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