May 11, 2007

Tijuana Bullfight Season Opener Was Successful in Spite of the Bulls

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

It was a perfect spring day. The May 6 opening card of the 2007 Tijuana bullfight season in “the beautiful bullring by the sea” was spectacular. It would have filled most other plazas de toros. Yet, only a meager crowd of an estimated 8,000 turned out to see six bulls of Montecristo presented to two fine Mexican matadors—Fernando Ochoa and Alejandro Amaya—plus the debut of one of the hottest toreros in the world, French Matador Sebastian Castella.

Everybody extracted a triumph from the afternoon, in spite of having to deal with a herd of rather dull bulls. Gary Sloans review follows.


Senior sword Fernando Ochoa opened the afternoon with a 475-kilo toro with which he realized nothing with the capote. The bull was easily distracted and couldn’t be enticed into offering an honest attack. It did seem to come to life after the picing, but was low on gas in the third act, limiting Ochoa to a valiant effort to extract a decent faena, but was unable to do so. Following two entries with the sword, the matador was applauded.

Ochoa did receive the best bull of the afternoon for his second effort and opened with very good veronicas, climaxed with a fine media veronica. In the third act, the matador offered strong muletazos to both sides, demonstrating great temple. Although his sword placement was a bit low, it did the job and two ears were awarded.


With his first bull, the French matador did little with the cape. The bull was weak and frequently fell down. He also worked hard in the third act, enjoying a few scattered moments of excellence, but a performance that was rather short of being considered triumphant. After a decent sword, it was over.

But, as with the case of Ochoa, Castella received a much better bull for his second opportunity and he made the most of it, opening with grand veronicas and a crisp media veronica.

His third act began well, with Castella really turning it on to both sides. But, about halfway through, the matador was caught and tossed into the air. The bull caught him a second time as he fell to the sand and viciously pummeled him, but luckily was unable to deliver a horn wound.

Badlyshaken, yet determined, Castella waved off his subalterns and returned to his bull, offering several 360-degree passes that inspired the crowd to loudly cheer. This was what everyone had come to see and nobody was disappointed. It was a great performance, punctuated by music, applause, and constant chants of “Ole!”


With his first bull, the Tijuana-born matador opened with nice cape work to a pretty good bull. His faena de muleta was very good, but bad luck with the sword denied him any trophies.

Determined to redeem himself, Amaya again opened his lmdia with fine cape work. But, where he really shined was with the muleta. Working closely to both sides, he gave a brilliant faena that was capped with a perfect sword placement.

It was a great way to begin the season. And, for the first time, I rode back to the border on the Five Star Tours bus and there was no hassle. This is the way to go and avoid the long border crossing delays.

How Popular is Bullfighting?

In the April 20 edition of the Spanish newspaper Diario de Sevilla, were the results of a study, done by the well regarded opinion and marketing research company Metro-scopia.

The findings showed 32% of Spaniards consider themselves to be aficionados of bullfighting and claim to have knowledge of it. Looking at the general population, in the last 12 months, 20%  went to a movie theater, 18% recently attended a soccer match and 20% went to a bullfight.

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