• Kyodo

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Eighteen-year-old Nanako Fujita, the Japan Racing Association’s first female jockey in 16 years, claimed her first national race victory on Sunday.

Fujita, in the saddle for her 51st national race, steered 5-year-old horse Sunny Days in the ninth race at Fukushima Racecourse for her first win at this level. She had previously ridden to two runner-up finishes.

“The strongest emotion is of relief, that I’ve finally managed to win,” Fujita said.

“There have been lots of times I couldn’t ride as I imagined, making me feel I’m no good, but I’m really happy. I’m full of gratitude to those who have been supporting me.”

The triumph is the first by a female jockey since June 2004, when Yukiko Makihara won.

Fujita made her debut on March 3 and got her first career wins in a regional meet three weeks later, when she won two races at Urawa Racecourse.

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