August 27, 1999

Bullfight World...
by Lyn Sherwood

Weak Bulls and Strong Toreros

Take a herd of bulls that lose their strength after only a couple of minutes in the arena, and three matadors who are determined to, nevertheless, perform correctly and professionally, and what do you have? Success!

Everybody loves to see strong, brave, noble bulls, given their lídias by honorable, courageous matadors. But, when the bulls are such as those of last Sunday, from Jaral de Peñas, otherwise brave animals that quickly run out of gas, thus dramatically increasing their potential danger, but their toreros lay it all on the line, it takes experienced aficionados to appreciate the results. Such was the case, Aug. 22, in Plaza El Toreo de Tijuana.

The Jaral de Peñas bulls were handsome creatures. All entered the arena with ferocity and strength. But, that is where their pretense as truly brave, thoroughbred animals ended. Nevertheless, that didn't deter the enthusiasm of their matadors, Mauricio Portillo, Paco Gonzalez, and Jeronimo, each of whom presented letter-perfect lídias to their respective draws.


The day was especially frustrating for Mauricio Portillo, who drew the worst of an already bad lot. His first bull, Buen Vecino, with 460 kilos, was greeted with a larga cambiada de rodillas, followed by nice Verónicas. But as the animal, as its brothers, fell down, exhausted, during the third act, Portillo gave it a faena a media altura, that had many moments to recommend it. Troubles with the steel limited the matador to appreciative applause.

It was a similar story with the matador's second bull, which was even more dangerous, due to its very short charge. Mauricio handled it professionally, but again had troubles at the supreme moment, and was applauded.


In his Tijuana debut, the young matador demonstrated intense talent, intelligence, courage, and schooling. He presented a very smooth faena to the toro débil, working both sides in grand style, climaxing with a good sword, and receiving warm applause for his great effort.

His second bull, the 470-kilo Garboso, made a strong, promising entry. Paco gave it good Verónicas. But, after one, light pic, the bull became aplomado. The seemingly impossible faena that followed was excellent in all respects. Gonzalez literally dragged passes from the ultra-dangerous bull. He completed the action with a great sword placement, and won a well-deserved, even stingy, ear.


This very classy youngster, appearing for the second time this season, once again impressed the aficionados with a talent so deep, he may be bound for a great future.

Jeronimo again demonstrated his potential as a future great, last Sunday, in Tijuana.

After receiving Costoso, a beautiful castaño, to which the matador gave excellent testing lances, followed by a grand set of Chicuelinas. Then, in spite of facing a physically imponent animal, Jerónimo gave a grand faena that was highlighted by great temple. The matador was caught and tossed, but suffered only a mauling. It was a long third act that terminated with an excellent sword which should have done the job. But, Jerónimo needed a descabello thrust. Still, he was awarded an ear for a grand lídia.

Jerónimo sent shivers up the spine of this aficionado, as he opened with magnificent Verónicas, cargando la suerte, to the last bull of the day. Then, while attempting to climax the set with a Media Verónica, everybody was surprised when the bull caught the matador, who luckily, received still another mauling.

The faena that followed was outstanding, as he worked to both sides with great artistry and deep integrity. He killed on the second entry with another great estocada, and, again, was strongly applauded.

In all, and in spite of the weak bulls, it was a grand afternoon.


This coming Sunday, in Tijuana, Miguelito Armillita Chico will arternate with Eulalio López "El Zotoluco" and Spanish Matador Domingo López Chaves, who in his Tijuana debut, Aug. 15, won a life-sparing indulto.


By the end of August, Julián López "El Juli" will have fought 33 corridas in 31 days, thus adding to the spirit of Julimania that has swept Spain. He is so active, he owns 12 suits of lights.

On Aug. 8, in Marbella, El Juli faced six bulls and cut seven ears and a tail. On Aug. 10, in Huesca, he won four ears and a tail, while Enrique Ponce and Raúl Garcia "El Tato" were limited to one ear, apiece.


During the 1998 season in Spain and France, there were 2,190 corridas and novilladas. In Andalucia, there were 483 corridas and novilladas. There were also 342 performances by rejoneadores in Spain and France.


Cristina Sánchez will offer her retirement afternoon, Oct. 12, in Plaza Las Ventas de Madrid.

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