The Bulls in English

It’s that time of the year again. March is upon us and with only a few days to go, the first of the much awaited festejos taurinos of Las Fallas de Valencia 2018, is about to get under way.

Tauroimagenplus has asked me to preview the programme that SimonCasasProductions put together for this edition. It is something I fear because to preview a bullfight is almost impossible given the uncertain factors of a corrida de toros.

Looking at the line-up for the coming feria and keeping in mind that the inclusion of local bullfighters always was part of Valencia’s policy, this year’s edition of Las Fallas is a bit thin on Valencians. Including the novilladas, only five have been chosen to take part.

One of them is Roman Collado Gouinguenet ‘Roman’. He is Valencia’s 24-year-old rising star who recently went out on shoulders in Madrid and returned to Spain after a glorious South-American season. Although he is contracted for two evenings, the Casas-people could have given him a more interesting billing. He is rather disappointingly placed in the first corrida on March 11th with Juan José Padilla and El Fandi. But maybe that is strategy. It is also the last appearance of Padilla in Valencia who will retire from the bullring at the end of the 2018 season.

On the 14th, Mexican Luis David Adame, the recently promoted brother of Joselito, makes his debut in Valencia in a threesome that also sees David Mora and Alvaro Lorenzo. The following day matador Juan Bautista (born as Jean Baptiste Jalabert in Nimes, the taurine capital of France) lines up with two young matadors whose careers have stalled a bit: Sevillian Daniel Luque and José Garrido, from Badajóz. Bautista, a matador whose style I would not describe as spectacular, seems to be back in the limelight while in my view Luque and Garrido are the ones to watch. (Luque took his alternativa in 2007, Garrido in 2015 and both showed great promise at the beginning of their career.)

On March 16, José Maria Manzanares is coupled with the Frenchman Sebastián Castella and Andrés Roca Rey, the fearless, some say reckless young peruvian who is shooting up the rankings with breakneck speed. He knows Valencia expects a lot of him as he triumphed in all of his visits to the Coso de Monleón, going out on shoulders on two occasions last year.

Maestro Enrique Ponce leads the paseillo on March 17 with Alejandro Talavante. Paco Ureña, the third name on that cartel, is the matador I will especially be looking forward to. He returns after his amazing encounter with the Luis Algarra bulls in July last year and later was garlanded in almost every feria. The emotional but fragile toreo of the young man from Lorca (Murcia) is a refreshing change to the somewhat mechanical toreo we see too much today. I am not a great fan of Talavante’s toreo and Enrique Ponce is a torero who deserves our utmost respect. After an amazing career spanning 28 years, his intelligence, his taurine knowledge and his grace has amazed me and still does, although I must admit Ponce can also bore your socks off.

On to Sunday March 18. A line-up for every taste. Miguel Angel Perera, a welcome guest to the Valencian ferias and a matador who has already shown his profesionalism in many ways. Specifically with the Fuente Ymbro bull ‘Harinero’ (Fallas 2006). Third matador Alberto López Simón is also of great interest to the Valencian afición. Like Perera in 2006, Lopez Simón spared the life of the last bull in the Fallas series of 2017, ‘Pasmoso’, from Domingo Hernandez, a colorao with the eyes of a partridge of 532 kilos. In between them stands ‘Cayetano’ who never spared the life of a bull in the valencian bullring. But que será será.

Román ends the feria on the 19th with Antonio Ferrera and Ginés Marín. If you consider the 19th of March a special day for Valencian toreros, it would have been a great ending of the feria if they had placed Román alongside Valencian matadores Enrique Ponce and José Maria Manzanáres. But I like Ferrera and prefer him to the other banderillero-toreros. I am pleased to read that his career is back on track after so many setbacks. And what about 19-year-old Ginés Marin? Well, to be carried out of Las Ventas after you have confirmed your alternativa is not something one does every day and I know aficionados who will come to Valencia especially to see him.

Before Ferrera, Roman and Ginés Marín take centre stage on the 19th, the usual horse parade is on at noon so let’s hope their thoroughbreds will not be bothered by the ear shattering mascletá. Andy Cartagena is on the programme but he recently broke his arm so there is some speculation. He might be replaced by Diego Ventura who has been left out of the feria. Sergio Galan and the French rejoneadora Lea Vicens make up the cartel.

Which leaves us with three novilladas. Two with picadores and one without:

On March 10, Fallas kicks off with two-year-old bulls from Nazario Ibañez for the students of the Escuelas Taurinas. José Antonio Valencia (He is Venezuelan but he studies tauromachie at the Nimes Escuela), Arturo Gilio from Mexico and the Valencian promise Borja Collado. On the

Borja Collado

Borja Collaso

12th, the first of the two novilladas with picadores and local lad Jesús Chover makes his come-back after his horrendous injury in July 2016. He is joined by Alejandro Gardel. Third novillero Angel Tellez surprised everyone in October last year when he left the ring on shoulders after a fine show of classic toreo. The novillos come from Fernando Peña.

Tuesday 13, (Martes Trece) brings us ‘Toñete’, Jorge Rico and ‘Marcos’ with novillos from El Freixo, the ganaderia owned by Julian López ‘El Juli’. Of those three I only remember seeing Jorge Rico, I saw him cut an ear in Valencia and get three avisos in Malaga. In short, a novillero who (like his companions) has a lot to look forward to.

So what about the bulls? SimonCasasProductions made an effort to present us with a varied collection of bullfighters but have they made an effort to present us with a varied collection of bull breeds? No, it is a boring collection which lacks creativity. Jandilla, Fuente Ymbro, Nuñez del Cuvillo, Garcigrande, Juan Pedro Domecq, Victoriano de Rio are the usual Domecq based ganaderias (except for Alcurrucén, the Lozano ganaderia which has a Carlos Nuñez bloodline). It seems M. Casas’ bull buyers are less valiente as he would like us to believe.

I began this preview voicing my fear about previewing Fallas 2018. Let me finish with a quote from a story in my book ‘More Words About Bulls’: “Everyone who visits a corrida should know that – apart from the obvious – it is impossible to predict the outcome of what is about to happen. A young anonymous torero can unexpectedly leave the arena in triumph, while a famous star walks out emptyhanded. Bulls from well-established breeders can fail miserably and an unsightly specimen of obscure origin can be declared bull of the year. For an aficionado perseverance is essential and a supply of luck indispensable, which is why he has such a complicated personality. He is a fatalist who expects the corrida to go badly as well as a masochist suffering through a bad corrida but refuses to leave in case something wonderful happens in his absence. In spite of all this, he’ll go back the following day for a second helping.”

Have a great Feria.

 Cronica de .Pieter Hildering

Fotografia de Mateo . tauroimagenplus