International jockey has returned to Gold Coast to prepare for busy stint in Japanese racing

Kanichiro Fujii is back on the Gold Coast. Picture Glenn HampsonKanichiro Fujii is back on the Gold Coast. Picture Glenn Hampson




INTERNATIONAL jockey Kanichiro Fujii has returned to where it all began as he prepares to use a month-long stint on the Gold Coast to prepare for a busy period of Japanese racing.

Fujii, who goes by Joe in Australia, started his career in Murwillumbah at the age of 17 before going on to finish his apprenticeship in Sydney where he rode for the likes of Gai Waterhouse.

The now 33-year-old spent close to a decade riding in Australia before going on to win group races in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, where he now resides with wife Saori and children Keita and Lisa.

The respected hoop has just earned a new three-month ­riding contract in Japan but with the deal not starting until April – and minimal racing on offer beforehand – Fujii has chosen to spend four weeks on the Gold Coast training and racing.

“I’m going to be riding in Tokyo and until then I want to keep myself fit and get ready for races when it starts over there,” Fujii said.

“For me it’s always good to get back into Australia because this is the place where I started riding and it got me going as an apprentice. I quite like it here at the Gold Coast. The weather is nice and I quite like the environment here.”

Fujii began his short visit to Queensland by winning on the Brad Herne-trained Gracious Choice last weekend in his only ride and he will look to add more wins when he takes to the saddle on Rose Of Woorim, Hi My Girl and Tide’s Out tomorrow at the Gold Coast.

Fujii, who organises his rides through Australian-based agent Clinton Childs, will also ride Herne’s Splendid Stryker at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday before potentially riding at Gatton on Tuesday.

Fujii has now won three of his past four rides in Australia after winning two of three races during a week-long visit in October last year to renew his riding licence.

“It was really good because I’ve been away from here for so long and you never know when you go to new place, you might not get good opportun­ities straight away,” Fujii said.

Fujii recorded 22 winners during his last three-month contract in Japan and said racing in his homeland and the Gold Coast was completely ­different.

“In Japan I was riding races five times a week and its non-stop – it’s quite a hectic schedule,” Fujii said.

“It’s very busy over there. Racing is a lot different compared to over here. Here you get to travel to a lot of tracks day to day like Doomben, Ipswich, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast while some jockeys go to Murwillumbah and Lismore.

“But over in Japan it’s the same track for five days.”

Story courtesy Tom Boswell – Gold Coast Bulletin


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