Japanese racing fans bring colour, passion to Arc
File picture taken on October 3, 2012 shows the Japanese horse Orfevre ridden by French jockey Christophe Soumillon at the horse racing centre in Lamorlaye, north of Paris
Around 6,000 fans -- some dressed in traditional kimonos -- flew in from Japan bringing with them small and large sized national flags and banners emblazoned the names of their two runners last year's runner-up and likely favourite Orfevre and this year's Japanese Derby winner Kizuna.
A huge banner with hundreds of messages of goodwill for Orfevre, the banner topped with his colours of black with red cross belts and yellow and black striped sleeves, was draped across a pedestrian bridge near to the statue of French racing legend Gladiateur.
Mirusuki Chibata, from Tokyo, said he had travelled with five other turfistes to watch the race with great expectations it would prove more fruitful than his last trip to Longchamp to see Orfevre lose last year after he threw the race away in the final furlong.
"This year he is older and he has a better draw. He deserves so much to win the race and be Japan's history maker," he said.
Kizuna too had his supporters, dressed in his colours of blue with red cross belts, and carries a lot of emotional baggage.
His name, in English 'ties' or bonds', is the sentiment his breeder hoped would be embraced by the Japanese people following the devastating tsunami and earthquake that hit north eastern Japan in 2011 leaving over 18,000 people dead.
A Japanese win -- 44 years after their first runner Speed Symboli finished 11th -- would round off a memorable few weeks for Japan, after Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in a vote by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members in Buenos Aires last month.
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