Not only breeders of fighting bulls and empresarios suffered a setback in the past year because of the restrictions imposed by the dreadful pandemic. Matadores de toros were also forced to take a sabbatical and although there were plenty of three year-old-bulls, hardly any bullring programmed novilladas. Novilleros who had already made plans to take their alternativa in 2020 had to postpone their aspiration. Those hoping to confirm their status in the Madrid bullring, were disappointed when Las Ventas cancelled all events while becerristas, training with two-year-old bulls in the anonymity of practice rings, were unable to show their skills before a public. Covid-19 forced the taurine world to a halt, robbed its protagonists of their future and was the cause of many broken dreams.
My choice of members of this lost generation are all born around the turn of the century. They are four very promising Valencian novilleros: Miguel Polope, Jordi Perez “Niño de las Monjas”, Miguel Senent “Miguelito” (the three of them were programmed for the cancelled Fallas of March 2020) and Borja Collado.
Miguel Polope made his debut with picadors during the 2019 July feria in Valencia. Some people considered this presentation long overdue as he had surprised them in his sin picadores days with his unique style. Although his performances reminded aficionados of the somewhat arrogant style of his predecessor Vicente Barrera, in 2019 his slow caping and excellent handling of the red flannel earned him trophies like the “Golden Orange” of Algemesí, the “Alfarero de Plata” of Villaseca de la Sagra and an invitation to the 18th edition of Arnedo’s “Zapato de Oro”.
On the evening of his presentation in Algemesí, Jordi Pérez Presencia – the novillero with probably the most remarkable life story having been brought up, and now sponsored, by the Sisters of Charity – cut three ears which won him a trophy and immediately secured him a place among the young toreros worth watching. In my review of one of his performances in 2018 I wrote: “Great faena with low passes on both sides. The novillero is completely in charge of the bull. Good estocada. Petition for two ears but awarded only one. Triumphant lap of honor. Jordi Pérez Niño de las Monjas is a dedicated young torero with, what seems to be, a natural understanding of the toro bravo.” In 2020 Jordi was unable to continue his already well paved path to glory.
Novillero Miguel Senent became a student of the Valencian Escuela Taurina at the age of ten. Nine years later, becerrista “Miguelito”, performed in eighteen events and cut twenty ears. Both he and Borja Collado were introduced in the feria of Algemesí (a feria which only programs novilladas picadas) in september 2018. The following season, his most remarkable performance occurred in the third category bullring of Villahermosa when he was awarded three ears and cut the tail of his second opponent. Last year he stood in ten novilladas, cut ten ears and was surely on his way to complete the minimal number of 25 novilladas needed to take the alternativa had his career not been crossed by Covid-19.
The career of Borja Collado unexpectedly came to a halt in August 2019 when he suddenly announced his goodbye to the world of bulls. As a reason for this remarkable decision he gave the following explanation: “I didn’t like the obsessed person I was becoming, I lost consciousness of what is important in life.” In the few years before his retirement Borja had shown he was another of Valencia’s School of Tauromachy’s most promising alumni, capable of great capework and excellent right handers. His sweeping naturales with a very low held muleta were remarkable. But a year after his sudden departure and fortunately for us aficionados, he decided to return to the ring but did not have the chance to perform. Something he shared with his three Valencian comrades from the Escuela.
With the selection of these four promising novilleros I have tried to illustrate how the Covid-19 pandemic blocked the careers of many young and aspiring bullfighters. Of that lost generation more were hit by this forced absence. Promising novilleros like Javier Orozco, Manuel Diosleguarde, Tomas Rufó, Francisco Montero, Alejandro Adame and Alejandro Gardel are all waiting to become matadores de toros. The only one who has so far been able to secure his future is Raphael Raucoule “El Rafi”, a young Frenchman who plans to take his alternativa in Nimes in June. Two other Frenchman, Andy Younes and Adrien Salenc are hoping to confirm their promotion in Madrid although this year’s San Isidro line-up does not include them. Also waiting for an opportunity to appear in the capital’s bullring are Filiberto Martínez “Filiberto”, Diego Carretero, Jorge Isiegas, Marcos Pérez “Marcos”, Aitor Darío “El Gallo” and Alejandro Marcos. For them the dreaded ‘sell by date’ is getting near. Let’s hope that somewhere in the coming season the restrictions on public attendance will be lifted. But let’s also hope that any future governmental plan to ban toreo will not be implemented. Only then this lost generation of bullfighters, from experienced matadors to novilleros and novice becerristas will be allowed to follow their dream and we can be there to cheer them on.
Cronica de .Pieter Hildering
Fotografias de Pieter Hildering and Mateo Tauroimagenplus,com