May 14, 2004

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Tijuana Season Opens on a Triumphant Note

The 2004 Tijuana bullfight season was inaugurated, last Sunday, on a triumphant, if not somewhat liberal note. Under warm skies, matadores Eloy Cavazos, Jorge Gutierrez, Alejandro Amaya, and rejoneador Gaston Santos Jr. faced six bulls of Fernando de La Mora and one from San Marcos. According to Tijuana correspondent Gary Sloan, here’s how the afternoon went.

CAVAZOS

With his first bull, which was the largest of the day, Eloy did very little. It was the shortest lidia I’ve ever seen. Nada. With his second toro, he pulled out all the stops, gave great work with the capote and a great faena on both sides. This bull was around 400 to 450 kilos, and had very comfortable horns, so Eloy worked very close, A great estocada topped it off, and two ears and the tail were awarded.

GUTIERREZ

Jorge, with both of his bulls, never went beyond just so so. He really didn’t have much to work with, but he gave his best shot. It just never went anywhere.

AMAYA

I had seen Amaya only once before, on television, from Plaza Mexico, back in January, I think. I thought he was very green, inexperienced, and at sometimes, oblivious to the bull, and he was caught, and tossed, hard, three times. Someone asked me Saturday, before the corrida, what I thought of his torero, and I said “He hasn’t convinced me, yet, but you never know, some toreros improve very quickly under the right conditions”.

Well, those conditions must have been present since January, because he has improved tremendously. With his first toro, he opened with sensational cape work, topped off with a one handed larga, that gave me goose bumps. The faena that followed, was nothing short of incredible. Beautiful muletazos on both sides, with precision and style that was beautiful to behold. Topped off with a terrific estocada, it was a lídia to remember for always. Two ears and the tail were awarded, and a slow drag of honor for the bull.

With his second animal, Amaya had a very good lídia in almost every respect, but it would be very hard to duplicate his first performance, at any time, let alone on the same afternoon.

So the opener was a very fine day, two rabos on two consecutive bulls, in the same plaza! The next corrida is May 30th with Rafael Ortega, Cesar Castañeda, and Ignacio Garaby, with toros de “Marcos Garfias”. See you there.

*****

Speaking of big afternoons, Spanish Matador Antonio Barrera enjoyed a good one, during the Feria de Aguascalientes. Alternating with Mexicans Fernando Ochoa and Ignacio Garibay, facing bulls of Real de Saltillo, Barrera cut one ear from his first bull, while his second was granted the life-sparing indulto.

But, the indulto animal was the only good one of the afternoon. The others were very difficult. Ochoa did his best, giving a good faena to his first bull, but losing at least an ear at the supreme moment. He gave a technical performance to his second bull and was saluted for his efforts. So, Ochoa purchased a gift bull, which was just as bad, and the matador was applauded.

Garibay did some impressive things, but was unable to register a triumph. He was warmly applauded.

*****

But, things didn’t go so well during the Feria de San Isidro, in Madrid. Five large, well-armed bulls of Hernández Piá and one of Conde de la Maza were presented to El Fundi, Oscar Higares, and Gomez Escorial.

The bulls were very difficult, but their matadores didn’t exactly knock themselves out, either. More had been possible, had they worked harder.

El Fundi gave only 14 or 15 muletazos to the sobrero from Code de la Maza. With his second, he only complied. He was afforded silence for both performances.

Higares received one decent bull and one very bad one. He offered token efforts and also received silence from the crowd.

At least, Escorial received some applause, at least for his first performance. He was afforded silence for his second.

So long, until next week.

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