By Lyn Sherwood
We must admit, at the outset, that Friday, July 20, was rather an irregular and awkward time to schedule a bullfight. But, then, Bullfight World isn’t in charge of such things.
It was a strange afternoon, attended by a light crowd, with the excellence of Alejandro Amaya being totally overlooked by the work of César Castañeda.
In all, a disappointing afternoon for those who recognize honest toreo, performed honestly. Gary Sloan reported the action.
One bull of Cerro Riejo was offered to Rejoneador Jorge Hernandez Garate, whose efforts were aided by the Forcados de Mazatlan, while six bulls from La Estancia were faced by matadores Castañeda, Luis Vilches, and Amaya.
The afternoon was initiated on a potentially treacherous note, as Garate made a huge error by misjudging the bull’s terrain. His horse was slammed, hard, against the estribo, almost knocking himself from the saddle. Then, the bull slammed them, again, coming very close to tossing man and horse into the callejón. Finally, the subalternos came to the rescue, leading the bull away, not however, without inflicting some damage to the rejoneador and his mount.
Naturally, Garate was forced to bring in a new equine, with which he offered a pretty normal, less than sensational, presentation. Then, came the forcados, and for those who enjoy this particular activity, they weren’t bad. Their first attempts to wrestle the bull to a stop didn’t work out, very well, as bodies were flung into the air. On their second effort, they held the bull for some time, before releasing it, but they could have held it for a much longer time, allowing the animal to be easier for the rejoneador.
It took Garate a long time to wear down the bull with a performance that included two very generously timed avisos, four pinchazos, and two descabello thrusts. Naturally, no awards, but the forcados had done a good job.
In earthbound toreo, César Castañeda received “Zarzero” (447 kilos), but was unable to achieve much in the way of cape work. However, following the pic’ing, the Tijuana matador placed three sets of banderillas, in grand fashion.
His work in the third act was very good, as he worked both sides, affording the bull the correct lídia. After a well-placed sword, he earned an ear.
César opened his second lídia with a farol de rodillas, followed by a great set of veronicas, climaxed with a media veronica. He took the bull to the horse with a good set of chicuelinas andantes, capped with a great revolera.
Time for the sticks. The first and second pair were placed al cuarteo, with sensational results. He broke the third pair into two, but had difficulty positioning the bull. Nevertheless, he managed to place a sensational pair that brought a huge ovation. This, to date, was the best banderillas placement of the season. Two ears.
Luis Vilches’s first toro, “Mil Soles” (448 kilos) broke a horn and was replaced by the 482-kilo Viajero, which the matador greeted with a fine set of veronicas and the media. The faena began with three terrific series, mostly on the left. However, poor luck with the steel forced him to settle for applause.
With his second toro, Luis again opened with grand, stylish veronicas and a strong media. His muleta work was initiated with three terrific sets on the right. He then switched to the left and did some outstanding work, in the Spanish style. He climaxed his faena with six beautiful, slow molinetes. But, once again, his sword failed him.
Alejandro Amaya was the real hero of the day, but the crowd failed to recognize the excellence of his toreo. He opened with a fine set of stylish veronicas to Vinatero (420 kilos). He then proceeded to present a set of strong, linked right handed muletazos, then switched to the left and the results were magical. He did four sets of naturals that were incredibly low and dominant, running the hand long in world class fashion. They brought tears to my eyes. The half sword didn’t accomplish the job and Amaya immediately went for the descabello, dropping the bull on the first entry.
He received no ears, although this reporter felt that the faena, itself, was worthy of a pair.
He wasn’t nearly as effective with his second bull, although Amaya had some fine moments with the capote. After one poor entry, followed by a ¾ thrust, it was over and the matador was applauded.
And, thus did the afternoon come to an end, with Castañeda being the most triumphant matador, but I’ll never forget those simply sensational naturals of Amaya.