• Kyodo

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Renowned jockey Yutaka Take became the first Japanese recipient of the 2017 International Award of Merit, the Japan Racing Association announced on Monday.

Established in 2013 by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and Swiss watchmaker Longines, the Award of Merit recognizes distinguished horsemen and horsewomen for lifelong contributions to thoroughbred racing.

Take, 48, will be honored on Dec. 21 in Japan ahead of the running of the Grade One Arima Kinen race.

Take as of Monday has won a Japan Racing Association record 3,940 races and has also won nine Grade One races overseas.

Trainers and breeders have been chosen for the International Award of Merit in the past but Take becomes the first jockey.

“It is a great honor to receive such a prestigious award,” Take said in a statement. “As a jockey, I am happy to fly with a saddle back and forth locally as well as internationally as requested.

“It doesn’t matter if there is a difference in the rules and language, I have been riding the same way everywhere, and therefore did not recognize that I was making a contribution to the achievement and improvement of global horse racing.

“If my attitude to horse racing has delivered me international recognition with this award, I will make a continuous effort to the development of global horse racing.”

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