Karapan sapi is a traditional bull race event from Madura Island in east Java. Kerapan derives from kerap or kirap that means depart, or released together or droves. But other version is that it derives from arabic kirabah that means friendship, and sapi means bull.
This race is originally from Sapudi Island, a small island next to Madura Island. There are two versions of the background history of this race. The first version is that the race was used by an Islam ulema to overspread Islam across Madura. Other version is that this race was created by a prominent man from Sapudi Island to make the soil fertile by plowing. This idea yield a good crop for the farmers.Then after that, post-harvest-time, they celebrated by holding bull race. This race is still conserved untill today and there is national race to win President Cup annually.
The race event started by parade of the couple of Bulls that participate on the race. Bulls are dress in ornamented decoration that makes them look pretty. Also madurese traditional music, Seronen, will make the parade more rousing.
The characteristics of racing bull or sapi kerap are: chest shape is narrowed from upper to lower, having long back, tight nails, long tail and big strong body. Race Bulls are treated eminently by the owners. Their daily meals is herbs, honey and eggs. And when they are about having a race, their meals will be more special in amount. Owners prepare for 20 eggs for the morning meal or more for the bull, and beside relaxing massage. No wonder bull meals and treatment can spend much much of rupiahs.
The race not only involves the owner and the bulls, but few other parties, namely : the owner of the bulls, the jokey (tukang tongko), man releasing the stranglehold (tukang ambeng),person that gnash the bull (tukang ambeng), also they need someone to shout at the side of the race track (tukang gubra), to stop the bulls at finish line (tukang nyandak), and to lead the bulls after the race (tukang tonja)
Karapan Sapi has many scale from district scale (Kerap Keni), the grand race (Kerap Raja), Invitees Race (Kerap Undangan), Residency race (Kerap Residency) and Rehearsal race ( Kerap latihan). Kerap Keni involves bulls from a district, Kerap raja involves the winners of Kerap Keni in each districts and take place in capital of a regency, and Kerap Karesidenan involves winners of Kerap Raja.
In the match, two bulls are bounded together. Taking the two bulls to the starting line takes four to five men to push them. To make the bulls run faster, bulls will be cut on their buttocks.