On a winter day four years ago, Takeshi Watanabe, then a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, went to watch the year-end Arima Kinen horse race at Nakayama racecourse in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture. For him the day was more about watching horses and experiencing betting, rather than making money by gambling.

Six months later, however, he found he had become a fan of horse racing and enjoyed betting. It did not take long before he came up with an idea to mix his new hobby with his major at school, machine learning and analysis. That was how he started to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) horse racing prediction system.

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