Saddle Up for Japan at Ascot

28th July 2018, Ascot Racecourse

Last year, thanks to the Japan Racing Association (JRA), sake finally came to be served at one of the most prestigious British events, the Ascot Racecourse.  And this year, once again, we were given another fantastic opportunity to meet Britain’s society at the King George VI and Queen Elisabeth Stake at Ascot. At the entrance to the main building, a Japan pavilion was set with the slogan of ‘Saddle Up for Japan’.

The aim of JRA’s campaign for Japan is to attract horse owners to enter the Japan Cup and also to raise the profile of Japan ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and Olympics in 2020. In the Japan tent, a combined team of sake, beer, wagyu beef and travel agents caught the attention of guests, giving them an opportunity to drop in to enjoy the Japanese delicacies. The Sake team were dressed in Japanese kimono and yukata to fit in with the festive ambiance. The level of interest in Sake and the knowledge among the audience were beyond our expectations and many enjoyed taking time to taste not just one but many types of sake before rushing into their box for lunch & racing. To our surprise, the sake we prepared to serve throughout the day was emptied before lunch, which allowed the sake team to watch horse racing together in JRA’s special guestroom with a grand view of the whole of Ascot.

Amongst the sake we prepared for this event, Mio sparkling sake was the greatest hit as expected for this celebrative event.  Perfectly chilled and rosy coloured ume-shu seemed to amaze the ladies who initially hesitated to drink sake due to alcohol strength. Some people were keen to taste a good traditional sake, and we offered delicious Junmai-shu and ginjo-shu from different regions, Tohoku, Honshu and Kyushu. To finish the sake experience, we also served very rare 30-year-old Koshu from Kyushu to create a loving memory. We hope all guests who kindly spent time with us enjoyed Japan’s warm hospitality, with or without winning the race of the day, and will visit Japan one day soon.

Yes, ‘horses for courses’ is well said, I was convinced at this home of racing. ‘Sake for courses’ is another phrase I should remember when organising future successful events for different objectives.

Rie Yoshitake