Indonesia’s child jockeys brave danger for cash and glory

Updated 25 November 2012
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Indonesia’s child jockeys brave danger for cash and glory

BAREBACK jockey Herman Sarifudin guides his horse into the starting box for a race on Indonesia’s Sumbawa island. The gate springs open and the horse bolts with Sarifudin clinging on for dear life.
Sarifudin is eight years old.
He’s one of dozens of children taking part in the races. The horses are small, often standing just 1.20 meters (4 feet) tall. But even so, fathers have to help their children clamber on to them.
Sarifudin competed this week in a race against five other children around a dusty, oval track of 1,400 meters (nearly one mile) near Bima town. His reward, if he wins, is a handful of cash for his family, and the glory for him.
He was nervous before the race but once it got going, he and the other barefoot riders looked in control, urging their horses forward with a flick of a switch to the flanks.
In the end, Sarifudin came in third. He told Reuters he felt drained.
Mohammad Amin is a district government official who keeps horses as a hobby. He has 12 of them.
The children are light, that’s why they’re the jockeys, he explains.
“Children learn to ride horses from the age of five,” he said.
About 2,000 cheering spectators crowded around the track.
Hami, a grandfather, was desperate to sell off his nearly new Nokia mobile telephone phone so he could put some money down.
Haji Sukri, 45, chairman of the race organizing team scoffed at the danger. The children were all skilful riders and none had been killed, and none seriously hurt, he said.
One child toppled off on to the dusty track at a recent race. His father quickly picked him up and carried him off, in tears.
“It’s OK to fall off a horse,” said taxi driver Irwansyah.
“My concern is that they should be in school, not racing horses. They can miss school for 10 days for just one event.”
The races have been held at the end of the rice-harvesting season ever since anyone can remember.
Horses are used throughout Indonesia, an archipelago of about 17,000 islands that straddles the equator, more often for pulling carts and buggies than for riding.
This year, the races near Bima lasted for 11 days and attracted nearly 600 horses, many from the nearby islands of Sumba, Bali, Lombok and Flores.
The grand prize was one million rupiah ($ 100). Those who win their groups get two cows.
One of the young stars this year was 11-year-old Mohammad Endiansyah, known as Endi, who has taken a two-month break from school for the racing season.
The punters say he’s a great rider, an expert at handling the horses. His father, Asikin, said he earned 15 million rupiah ($ 1,500) in the last two months from different races.
“A horse is like a friend,” Endi said. “I’ve fallen, been sick and cried but no horse has ever stepped on me.”
Endhi said he wanted to be a policeman when he grows up.
“But I’d also like to be a professional jockey,” he said. ($ 1 = 9,633.0000 rupiah)


New Zealand PM stays in hospital with ‘hungry’ baby

Updated 29 min 28 sec ago
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New Zealand PM stays in hospital with ‘hungry’ baby

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to spend a second night in hospital with her “very alert and hungry” newborn daughter, her office said Friday.
The realities of motherhood have seen plans for a public appearance by the 37-year-old with her baby canceled twice.
Ardern is only the second world leader to give birth while in office, following Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto whose daughter Bakhtawar was born in 1990.
She has yet to announce the name of the child, but a spokesman for her office said “everyone is doing well if not a bit tired” and Ardern spent a lot of time feeding the baby during the night.
“The nurses described the baby as ‘very alert and one hungry baby’,” the spokesman added.
The baby arrived Thursday afternoon, weighing 3.3 kilogrammes (7.3 pounds).
It is the first child for Ardern and her 40-year-old partner Clarke Gayford, a television fishing personality who will become a stay-at-home dad when she returns to work after six weeks of maternity leave.
Her deputy Winston Peters is now acting prime minister, although Ardern will continue to be consulted on significant issues.
The birth capped an eventful year for Ardern who became prime minister last October, three months after inheriting the leadership of the Labour Party when it was languishing in the polls.
Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari tweeted “congratulations” and shared a link to a news story on how the Pakistani leader showed it was possible to be a mother and a prime minister.