After two years of forced absence, the once most important feria of the month July was announced to start on Thursday July 14 with a corrida of Luis Algarra-bulls for Miguel Angel Perera, Daniel Luque and Ginés Marín. We had already seen those bulls two nights earlier, at the traditional desencajonada the public unloading, an event that usually pulled in thousands of spectators. That night three ganaderias took part while only a quarter of the ring was filled. Eighteen crates lined the side of the arena and after the Algarra’s came six bulls from Victoriano del Rio/Toros de Cortés, followed by six Fuente Ymbro’s. I remembered earlier desencajonadas walking home at three in the morning after more than forty toros had to be unloaded. Tonight It took just half an hour to remove, gather up and put away eighteen bulls and when that was over all kind of contraptions were carted into the arena for the locals to jump on- and off while being chased by feisty Navarra cattle with a man screaming into a microphone what brave lads they were. The temperature had dropped to 86o F.

            With only half the plaza filled, at seven o’clock on July 14, the drum rolled and the bugle sounded for the three matadors to take up their position for the first procession of the feria. In the middle stood Ginés Marín from Jeréz de la Frontera (wearing blue and gold) known for his memorable performance during the recent San Isidro. He was flanked by Miguel Angel Perera (in redcurrant and gold) on his left and Sevillian Daniel Luque (in white and gold) on his right. 

It took the first bull five minutes to come out of his pen and when he finally did, he walked to the centre of the arena, looked around, ran to the side and took refuge by the barrera. It was no match for Perera who tried coaxing him into following his muleta but gave up. The fourth animal was no better and after his two-ear-triumph in Pamplona, a disappointed Perera left the Valencian bullring empty handed.

I’ve always found Daniel Luque, the second matador, a no-nonsense torero, a matador of little subtlety. More a Castillian torero than a Sevillian and I suspect him of inventing the latest craze of showily throwing away the sword to perform equally showy naturales with the right hand. An idiotic stunt that was repeated by almost every matador in the following evenings. Unfortunately for Luque his first bull didn’t give him the opportunity to do so and his attempts stranded in the lamentable condition of the Algarra bull. The best of the evening was the fifth, a red (colorado) coated animal whose physical appearance was applauded the moment he rushed in. Luque was able to perform all the tricks of his repertoire with him, his kneeling passes, his muletazos close to the bull and his left- and right handed naturales. He killed well enough to earn the first ear of the feria.

After the two matadores poderosos it was a delight to see Ginés Marín. He earned the respect of the San Isidro-crowd by returning to the arena days after he was seriously injured by a Parralejo bull. “The stoicism of Ginés Marín” was the headline a .com news provider used that day.

Although his first bull too tended to run away after it was pic-ed, Ginés kept him fixed to his capote with some good Veronicas. His was no show, no extrovert posing, but a fine faena from a matador with fresh ideas and certainly his slow muletazos lifted the public from their boredom and awarded him an ear. He tried again with his last bull but the animal didn’t respond. His faena went on too long and his sword didn’t earn him a trophy. Although they had been looking good, almost every Luis Algarra bull (excluding #5) was booed or whistled at when they were dragged out. When we left the arena at 21.30 the temperature had dropped to 84o F. 

            The following morning I walked over to the corrals of the plaza to look at the Victoriano del Rio bulls being locked away for the corrida later that day with “The Artist”, “The Tremendista” and “The One Who Is Still Trying To Find His Bearing”. Morante de la Puebla, Andrés Roca Rey and the local favorite, the sympathetic “Román”. The temperature was already at 82o F.

What I couldn’t see that morning was that both bulls Morante won in the lottery, would not have the physical condition to be in a plaza de toros. The matador with already more than forty corridas to his name and 34 ears cut, was unable to do anything. Apart from his agonisingly slow Veronicas with the green and magenta cape and one or two series with the muleta, his performance was marred by the lamentable condition of his two bulls.

After winning an ear in Madrid and a great evening in Pamplona with the Cebada Gagos it was now time for Román to crown his successful series in his hometown. And if the sword hadn’t let him down, he would have done so. Roman has already shown that the capote is no stranger and that he can perform excellent series with a low held muleta. But it always seems as if he is never sure of his own talents. Some say he lost his self confidence after his terrible injury by a Murteira bull in Las Ventas but most are convinced one day their matador still will shine among the best. 

The evening belonged to Andres Roca Rey. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind he would be carried through the main gate. The question was the amount of ears he would take with him.

Andrés  had the best bull of the evening, a large red brown animal that weighed 590 kilos. It became clear as soon as the animal shot out of the bull gate and the Peruvian caught him in his cape. What followed was a faena with a combination of back passes, kneeling right handers and left handed naturales. Everything done in correct timing, at the precise distance and with the cold blooded bravery only Roca Rey seems to possess nowadays. Although the sword slid in in the so-called rincón de Ordoñez (slightly off the mark but effective), it dropped the bull and got the matador his key to another puerta grande. The animal was given a lap of honor post mortem.

The sixth bull lacked the qualities of the third and although the Limeñan gave his all, he was unable to repeat his earlier success but Andrés Roca Rey had convinced the last unbeliever.

            Jesús Duque fought his last bull in the Vlencian plaza during Fallas 2016 but thanks to his mentor and manager Vicente Ruiz, “El Soro” he headed the line-up on Saturday 16, the last corrida of the July mini-feria. Alongside him stood two young matadors who recently made a name for themselves in other arenas: Alvaro Lorenzo and Angel Tellez. Sadly the Fuente Ymbro bulls, the favourites of so many, did not live up to their expectations and in spite of being able to applaud one of their countrymen, only half the plaza was filled. Not surprisingly, in the Sol section the temperature rose to a 104o F.

Duque (in black and jet) had a decent performance although the years of inactivity showed. “He wanted to but couldn’t”. When the fourth bull lifted him up, shook him about like a rag doll and threw him back on the sand, it seemed the short career of the unfortunate matador had ended. But after a splash of water and some reassuring words of his co-manager Javier Vázquez, he stumbled back to kill the bull. His trip to calvary earned Jesús a compassionate ear and after medical examination his injuries appeared to be superficial. It could have been worse.

Alvaro Lorenzo’s (in cream and gold) performance showed he is one of the young bullfighters for the coming years. Tonight he was secure in his passing although he killed badly but was given the ear of his second opponent. 

Angel Tellez (tobacco and gold) came in the wake of his triumphant appearance in the recent San Isidro where he was declared triunfador of the feria after standing in for the unfortunate Emilio de Justo and going through the most important puerta grande. He wasn’t so lucky in Valencia but left some evidence of his no doubt glorious future. The temperature had dropped to 86o F.

            Which left us with the last event of the feria, a novillada with novillos from Montealto for the whirlwind of the May feria, Isaac Fonseca, the Valencian Jordi Pérez, “El Niño de las Monjas” and another triunfador of the San Isidro cycle, Alvaro Alarcón. All Montealto novillos were great looking, well horned toritos de lidia with stamina and speed. One could say they were too much for the young bullfighters. 

Fonseca was unable to repeat his triumph of two months earlier but still performed his surprising kneeling passes, his daring derechazos and his naturales executed close to the horns of the passing bull. His sword was less secure but he still managed to cut an ear after his second appearance.

Row 15 of Tendido 1 colored white as ten nuns of the Order of the Desamparados, who run the orphanage that took in Jordi Pérez (see Las Noticias of September/October 2020), eagerly awaited their pupil. Sadly he seemed too eager to fight his bulls, too restless to carefully execute his passes but always with a lot of dedication even though his sword went wrong which lost him the trophies. But his toreo tells you he will –one day– arrive where he wants to be. And if he doesn’t believe that, he will always have the support of his tutors who applauded every pass with great enthusiasm.

Alvaro Alarcón ended the feria with a performance that showed why he was elected “best novillero” of San Isidro. It was a delight to see him work the cape in some fine Veronicas, his chest passes seemed to last forever and although both his faenas had great quality, his sword lost him his rewards and maybe even an exit on shoulders. But at 86o F it was probably too hot anyway. 

            Valencia’s July feria ended on July 17. It used to be called Feria de San Jaime but as his dia santoral is on July 25, according to Enrique Amat, it should now be called Feria of Saint Carmen whose festive day is on July 16. 

I still have two novilladas on my abono. They are programmed for October 8 and 9. There is a rumour that a corrida de toros is prepared for October 12. It is said that in that corrida Enrique Ponce will re-appear. Hot rumours but it certainly will be cooler.

Cronica de Pieter Hildering

Fotografias de Mateo de