We like to think that the world holds its breath for the Melbourne Cup – not just us. No doubt, Seven will reveal figures at some stage today, announcing 17 kwazillion billion Earthlings watched the telecast by satellite.

The reality might be a little different.

At the risk of being even more “un-Australian” than the Prime Minister, who called a press conference at 2.50 pm yesterday – ten minutes before the horses were due to jump – we should point out that while a Japanese quinella in the Cup was huge news here, it didn’t even receive a big play in Delta Blues and Pop Rock’s homeland.

It should be noted that Japanese media types were a little distracted by a tornado that killed nine people in the town of Saroma, in eastern Hokkaido.

Meanwhile, a Government Minister called an emergency press conference after midnight to announce he had received a letter from an anonymous schoolboy threatening to commit suicide on Saturday because of bullying. There is now a desperate search to find the kid.

Events like that would make it a little difficult to get overly excited about a horse race.

But even the sports desks of Japanese media seem to have offered a collective shrug to the Cup success. Mainichi Daily News ran a wire report that only labeled the Cup “Australia’s biggest horse race” – not “one of the world’s greatest” as local media like to proclaim.

The Kyodo News could only find room for an in-brief headline: “Japanese horses 1-2 in Australia’s renowned Melbourne Cup”. The Japan Times didn’t get around to mentioning it, preferring baseball, soccer and the New York Marathon results.

Other websites, like Japan Stadium, were more excited by a BBC yarn that Breeders Cup winner, Ouija Board, would have another try at winning the Japan Cup in Tokyo.

Asahi couldn’t find room for the Cup because of such yarns as Taiwan beating Japan’s “lady spikers” at the World Volleyball Championships and that Naohiro Takahara was enjoying his soccer more since moving to Frankfurt.

After the race, all the local predictions have been that Japanese trainers will be targeting the Melbourne Cup in a big way, encouraged by trainer Katsuhiko Sumii’s quinella yesterday. Whether the rest of Japan gives two hoots is debatable.

Peter Fray

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