Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley group has been forced to temporarily surrender its JRA licence to operate breeding and racing operations in Japan.

The licence was automatically relinquished through no fault of Darley’s when the Darley Japan chairman Riki Takahashi resigned. Under complex JRA rules, it is difficult for foreign organisations to own and operate studs or hold racing licences in Japan. Darley secured its JRA licence in July, at about the same time as it purchased the top-flight racehorse and prospective sire Admire Moon for around A$40 million.

John FergusonJohn FergusonAdmire Moon was to have spearheaded Darley Japan’s breeding operation. Darley will renew its bid for a licence, but it could take as long as two years to be granted, according to some reports. Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock advisor John Ferguson said the rules were clear on the situation Darley has found itself in. One of the most relevant regulations is the one that requires the owner of a farm such as Darley Japan Farm to be a Japanese resident. 
One wonders what Darley will do next.  What will become of their stallions for example?

“Basically, the JRA have a set of rules which we completely understand,” Ferguson said. “We have been in discussion with them and they have been very helpful.” Ferguson said the loss of the licence would not affect Darley’s buying activity at the JRHA foal sale.

Darley Japan spokesman Hanako Sonobe said the situation wasn’t clear-cut due to the structure of Darley and the strict Japanese requirements. “To gain a land licence or an agricultural licence is sometimes very difficult. There are restrictions in place to protect Japanese agriculture,” she said.

“Darley Japan Farm has to be owned by a Japanese resident.” Darley has five properties and about 30 horses in training in Japan. The horses can race on the second tier National Association of Racing circuit on which Darley has held a licence since 2003.