Fandiño is gored and Abellán is carried out shoulder-high

There was a bit of everything at the fourth day of the Sanfermin bullfights.  Miguel Abellán got the lucky break of fighting the two best bulls from the Fuente Ymbro bull-ranch. With skill and expertise, the Madrid toreador managed to fight his bulls well enough to be awarded two ears and be carried out shoulder-high through the main gate of the bullring.   The remaining bulls lacked ‘bravura’ and character and indeed, more than one failed to respond to the cape work.

Continue reading…

Good start, poor finish

The third day of bullfighting in the Sanfermin Feria del Toro week, began at a crescendo – two ears with the first two bulls – a bit of a sweetener, but that is how it usually is in Pamplona- only to quickly decline with the next four Victoriano bulls, which made it impossible for the bullfighters to shine or achieve anything in the way of trophies. The two early ears were for Sebastián Castella and Iván Fandiño, who made the most from getting the two best bulls early to win an ear apiece from these first bulls.

Continue reading…

A Somersault and some ringside applause

The second day of the Sanfermin bullfights proved to be neither good nor bad, but rather the opposite. The bulls were acceptable; the bullfighters too. But it was just not good enough to open any gates or to award any ears. The best toreador was Jiménez Fortes, who got a round of applause as he paraded round the arena after his second bull. Earlier he had received a spectacular tossing that made him do a spectacular somersault but without any further consequences. Diego Urdiales (applause and silence) and Morenito de Aranda (silence and silence), just showed some details, especially the second bullfighter.

Continue reading…

The 2015 Feria del Toro poster features a picador on horseback and holding his lance – but it doesn’t show its stabbing metal point “so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings”

A horseback picador is the striking image on this year’s poster for the forthcoming Sanfermin 2015 Feria del Toro and today it was presented to the public at a press conference. This year the poster has been created by Madrid painter, Vicente Arnás who was chosen by the organizing committee from the Casa de Misericordia charity in Pamplona – the entity behind the organization of the bullfights – to provide the poster for this year.

Not since 1986 has a picador featured on the annual poster made to announce the Sanfermin bullfighting week. And that is precisely why Vicente Arnás chose this particular assistant of the matador to feature on the poster “in order to find a poster theme that has not been given as much protagonism as some of the other elements within the bullfights”. The artist also revealed another interesting detail when he admitted that he had purposely omitted showing the steel stabbing point of the lance which is used to weaken the bull during the bullfight. And the reason for this omission he admitted was “to avoid hurting the feelings of those people who are opposed to the element of cruelty in the bullfight”.

The Madrid painter also acknowledged that he was very pleased to have been chosen by the Casa de Misericordia committee to create the poster for this year`s bullfighting week. He revealed that he had also introduced some small details in the outfit and dress of the picador taken from earlier periods such as the frilly ruff around the neck of the picador, and he did this on purpose as this was something he had a habit of doing in his paintings in order to add some “personality to the piece”.

2015-04-09_arnas2At the press conference launching of the poster, Fernando Redón, a member of the Casa de Misericordia Bullfighting Committee, and also a fellow artist, spoke of the artistic validity found in the work of Arnás, and he outlined the career of this Madrid artist and the different exhibitions that he has had over the years. The Mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya, also spoke and he praised the rich variety and high quality found in the Sanfermin Bullfight posters over these past years.

This official presentation of the Feria del Toro Poster is traditionally held just a few weeks before the annual presentation of the Sanfermin Fiestas Program. And the winner of this poster competition will soon be revealed after the general public of Pamplona has cast their votes for the winning poster, using this public-voting selection method which has been in vogue for several years now.

José Escolar and the Tajo y la Reina fighting Bulls will be first-timers for Sanfermin 2015

We have just learned the bull-ranches selected for Feria del Toro de 2015 from a press release issued by the Casa de Misericordia organizing entity. Five of the eight bull-ranches from last year will repeat again in 2015: Victoriano Del Río, which won the “Feria del Toro” and “Carriquiri” awards in 2014, as well as the customary Miura, plus the Jandilla, Fuente Ymbro and Garcigrande – Domingo Hernádez bull-ranches. Making their debut in 2015 is the José Escolar Gil, from cattle breeding method Albaserrada, and the bulls from the Tajo y la Reina bull-ranches, owned by maestro José Miguel Arroyo, “Joselito”.

Continue reading…

The Bulls are getting into shape for Sanfermin 2015

Here at we will be waiting for the official announcement from the  Casa de Misericordia (organizers of the Sanfermin bull- fighting week) in order to let you all know which bull ranches have been chosen for The Running of the Bulls and the afternoon fights for Sanfermin 2015. At present, we do not have any information about that but it is very likely that they already know most of the bull breeds. And, as the song says (the one sung by Fary in his day), the Bulls will be already getting into shape for the fiesta events. We can use one of the cartoon figures from RTVE national television made for Sanfermin last year where we can see the Bulls smarten up for the fiestas. It’s true that they will lose their lives but they can also achieve eternal glory.

Javier Martínez de La Puente

Shoulder high

Photo: Javier Martínez de La Puente
10th July 2014

There is no greater honor for a bullfighter than to be carried out shoulder high from the bullring after giving a noteworthy performance in the arena. Even for the imitation matadors. This supposed matador managed to get carried out shoulder high along with the exit of the Peña clubs, taking one of his “ears” awarded to him in the bullring.

The Colombian, Bolívar, the best with the Miura bullfights, in spite of being thrown

Luis Bolívar, from Colombia, was the best matador, without any doubt, in the closing afternoon bullfights of the Feria del Toro 2014. With an intelligent performance, showing off his skill with the cape, and taking risks with his sword-work, he was awarded one ear. It could have all gone wrong because he went all out for the kill knowing it was his opportunity and the bull threw him with a toss that almost cost him dear. A mortal thrust and an ear was awarded. He could not complete his afternoon’s work because the second bull was not up to much and fizzled out early. But he did get an appreciative ovation from the public.

Esaú Fernández did not have any luck. The first bull was the worst of the lot. Yet dangerous for a bullfighter without much experience in these type of situations. And the second bull, the infamous, Olivito, the same bull that had caused the gorings in this morning’s Running of the Bulls, was a bull to achieve some fame with. But Esaú, after a good performance with his cape-work, got entangled with his sword-work and ended up being jeered and booed on what could have been a good day for him.

Javier Castaño did not get best bulls, and knowing the score, he sorted things out as rapidly as possible and decided to wait for a better day to prove his worth.

14th July. Miura.
Javier Castaño: silence and silence
Luis Bolívar: ear y applause
Esaú Fernández: silence and jeers

Fotos: Patxi González

Fotos: Maite H. Mateo

A forgettable bullfight

We have had so many good afternoon bullfights lately, with triumphant matadors,  “Padillas”, generous presidents, open gates and ears awarded haphazardly …that we had almost forgotten the other side of bullfights. That is to say, bulls that don’t want to know anything about anything, bullrings submersed in boredom, stands that are crowded with an indifferent public and bullfighters that go all out for it because they may not get another bull like this one.

Urdiales was given two difficult bulls – as indeed, were his companions – and he tried his best not to let it affect him. But he forgot that the bull in front of him was not a bull to triumph with. Even so, he managed to force a few timid rounds of applause for some of his cape work. Manuel Escribano started off enthusiastically, receiving the bull a portagayola, and with real bravery. But his first bull pestered him intently, while the second one, which had initially given a positive impression, very quickly came to nothing. And to crown it all, he had problems with his final sword-work in making the kill.

Alberto Aguilar was the one who had the best options. At least, with his first bull, which was the best of a bad lot. He performed well with this bull but it went largely unnoticed or at least unawarded, as yesterday seemed to be one of those days for few acknowledgements. His second bull was worse, meek and without resources. A bull to forget. Indeed, an afternoon’s bullfighting to forget.

13th July. Adolfo Martín.
Diego Urdiales: silence and silence
Manuel Escribano: silence and silence
Alberto Aguilar: silence and silence

image image(1) image(2) image(4) image(5) image(6) photo 2

Fotos: Maite H. Mateo

14th July(18:30 p.m.) Miura.
Javier Castaño
Luis Bolívar
Esaú Fernández

Padilla continues to be the king

The matador with his pirate eye-patch does not need much introduction. All those who know him well sing his praises. It was a bull called “Marqués,” from the Miura bull-ranch that is to blame for the eye-patch over his left eye. The horn of that bull penetrated his left ear and his left eye. But the bullfighter does not hold anything against the bull. Indeed, he appreciates the glory he has attained from that unfortunate mishap.

Juan José Padilla (Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, 1973), the “bread-man” from Jerez, is easy to like… and to like a lot. The Pamplona Bullring lights up with his presence. These Sanfermin 2014 he will fight on two days. He already made his first appearance last Wednesday and today, Saturday he repeats. His presence in the arena generates a lot of interest. He tends to give his all every time he fights because that is his style, a generous type, he is un ‘entregao’. This was confirmed to us the order day by Miguel Araiz, ‘Rastrojo’, the gaffer of the bull-minders in the Runnings of the Bulls. These men seem to have a certain special rapport with Padilla which was well caught in a photo from our photographer Mikel Ciaurriz last year when he snapped the matador arm-in-arm with his friends, the bull-minders.


This year we wished to bring them together again and Padilla gifted us with these cute snapshots taken in the courtyard of the bullring. If it were not for their uniforms, this could be just about any typical gang of mates ready to go out together to have a good time in Sanfermines. On this occasion, the photos were taken by another of our other photographers, Javier Martínez de la Puente, but Padilla remembered Mikel Ciaurriz from last year and, on seeing him, he shook his hand and told him “We must repeat the photo this year, right? The appointment was for 7.15 a.m. and the “pirate” made a big effort to come on time. A gesture that we most certainly sincerely appreciate.

Padilla generates a lot of affection. Wherever he goes, he leaves his mark. His path is that of a true hero who has known how to confront Death itself and to make the most of his life doing what he likes to do best. His personal background is just as impressive as his work in the bullring. He deserves many more awards of ears and tails if only for having learned how to fight against adversity and suffering.


“La vida es un regalo” (‘Life is a gift’) reads the title of the book written by María de Villota, the Formula1 driver who lost an eye in an accident and who sadly died last October. In the book, the driver expresses her appreciation to Padilla for his support and in different places in the book there are quotes and reflections made by the matador about what one can learn when one has looked Death in the eye. A copy of this book always travels with the bullfighter, like a lucky charm that will protect him, along with a couple of bracelets made by his two children for him.

He told the Formula One driver, among many other things, how to make a good eye-patch and how to place it without causing any pain…and how to show it off! In fact, he tends to match his eye-patch with the clothes he is wearing, as he is quite vain in that aspect. In several recent interviews that he has had, he admits that he likes to cook very much, to go to the beach, to have guests at home, to cycle on a tandem bicycle with his daughter and to take his six dogs for walks.

He appreciates almost everything in life. He says that the first thing he does each morning on waking up is to thank God for being alive. He often quotes doctor Carlos Val Carreres, who brought him back to life the day of his almost-fatal goring and indeed, other doctors too and of course his own wife – called Lidia, who he first courted when she just a girl of fourteen, when he used to deliver bread to her house. Her help has been crucial in his conclusive convalescence.


The goring to his eye resulted in the loss of 18 kilos in weight as well as the total loss of vision in his left eye while it also damaged his sense of symmetry, his sense of depth, his speed, his reflexes…but thanks to an iron will, which demanded long hours of recuperation with physiotherapists and speech therapists, he was able to reach a level of well-being which allowed him to get back into the bullrings again. It was not an easy decision to make, but he realized he had done the right thing when his daughter asked him after he told them his wish to continue as a matador, Paloma asked him: “Does that mean that I can tell my friends at school that you will be a bullfighter again?”.

In short, Padilla is made from special mettle, a phenomenon of Nature. He has suffered a total of 37 gorings so far and he never stops repeating that glory and suffering go hand-in-hand. Perhaps to sweeten the path, he has become a vicious chocolate eater. Luckily, with his profession, he burns up calories and he can continue to squeeze his lean body into the tight matador outfits. And for when he is taking his strolls, we have presented him with one of our T-shirt drawings from this year’s Sanfermin collection. It simply reads: “Pero sigo siendo el rey”. Nobody better than him to show it off. The best of luck, maestro!