Monday, March 06, 2017

Vera Bulls

On the last Sunday of February, there was a 'charity' bullfight in Vera. Because this was not a usual traditional corrida, the matadores didn't wear their 'suits of lights', but instead dressed in Andalusian cowboy fashion (picture). The event was significant because five of the six were top-of-the-line names, and the sixth was an up-and-coming Almería novillero.
I wanted in particular to see one of them, a young Peruvian called Andrés Roca Rey, as he has made a name for himself despite his young age (he's now nineteen) and he was unable to attend a fight I had gone to see in Almería City last summer (he'd been gored the week before in Málaga).
The Vera ring is one of seventeen bullrings across the province of Almería (most of 'em still in operation) and this particular one seats 4,800 spectators. They vary in size, with the Roquetas del Mar one holding 8,000 and the Almería City one at 9,800 (the world's largest, in Mexico City, holds 41,300 people).
The Sunday fight began with Diego Ventura, a mounted bullfighter, called a rejoneador. He would switch horses during his faena, and place his barbed banderilleras with skill into the back of the bull, ending his time with a lance through the bull's back and into its heart. At one point, the bull nudged his horse (not good) and he fell off (picture). He was awarded an ear, following lots of white hankie waving from the crowd.
Following Diego, the others were matadores, fighting from the ground. We saw El Córdobes, El Fandi (who also does his own bandilleras) and Cayetano (the bull stepped on his foot at one point). All were good but were unable to make clean kills.
Then came Roca Rey. Who was sublime. He's worth watching on YouTube (here). Here in Vera, he seemed to work at the peak of his talents, and he killed the bull at the 'moment of truth' with a perfect thrust. The crowd stood and roared and he was  awarded both ears and the tail by the president.
The sixth and final  fighter, Juan Carlos Benitez, was awarded an ear for a clean kill, but I had left by then. You can't improve on perfection.

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