Madrid kicks off the season with bulls in the spotlight

THE BULL. That way, in capital letters. That is the slogan that Plaza 1 seems to have chosen to kick off 2024 at La Monumental de Las Ventas. Two bullfights from bull-breeds favoured by the most recognisable sector of its fans for the first shows of the year in the capital’s bullring.

The liturgical calendar “obliges” this year to open the season a week earlier than stipulated (24th March), since the schedule imposes the last Sunday of March to be the last Sunday of March to the Day of El Pilar (12th October). However, it also states that for both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday two bullfights will have to be held. And as in 2024 Semana Santa is “brought forward”, so is the start of the year in Las Ventas. And it does so in style.

toros Domingo de Ramos - 24 marzo 2024
Bullfighting poster, 24 March 2024. Palm Sunday

The first event features the Cuadri cattle as the main attraction. Most likely, the cattle from Trigueros, considered its own breed with a base of Parladé plus other contributions, will be the preferred choice of the most demanding nucleus of the Ventas parishioners. Tight, robust, and aggressive specimens, their owner Fernando Cuadri is revered in these circles thanks to his friendliness and his particular criteria regarding bravery. Since the 1990s, he has primarily fought bulls that are well remembered in this bullring.

The resume of Pedraza de Yeltes in Madrid is much more succinct, given that it is a much more recent cattle ranch, although it is true that its path begins in the very arena of Las Ventas, where on April 30, 2009, it fought in its first event. Created with seeds from El Pilar, its cattle therefore come from the herd originating from María Antonia Fonseca. Animals with strength and height, which enjoy an extraordinary reputation in France and are announced in Las Ventas one week after the “cuadris”, on March 31, Easter Sunday.

Regarding the members of each lineup, Plaza 1 has devised two combinations that blend youth with skill. Antonio Ferrera will be tasked with opening the new season in Madrid, as he leads the trio to face the Cuadri bulls. A seasoned, versatile bullfighter, Ferrera possesses a multitude of techniques to confront the most demanding bull breeds. However, when a bull cooperates, he is capable of relaxing while bullfighting and infusing emotion into his performance.

Octavio Chacón and Gómez del Pilar complete the lineup. Neither of them boasts the track record of Ferrera in Las Ventas, but they are respected bullfighters in the arena. The man from Cadiz has spent several years fighting in these types of lineups, where he has carved out a niche as a capable bullfighter, while Gómez del Pilar has been one of the most outstanding bullfighters in this niche in the last two Madrid campaigns. Just last season, for instance, he cut an ear from a bull from Escolar in San Isidro and received ovations in the Concurso Bullfight in September, which incidentally was won by a specimen from Pedraza de Yeltes.

The lineup for Easter Sunday is led by the Portuguese Manuel Dias Gomes, a bullfighter of excellent style, who will kick off the series of spring confirmations at this arena. The role of godfather will be taken by the Valencian Román, who returns to the arena where he was injured in the last Autumn Fair. Familiar with both the highs (he was carried out on shoulders in 2017) and lows (he has suffered three accidents, one of them extremely serious) in this arena, he commands the respect of the fans. Francisco de Manuel will act as the witness, another bullfighter who knows what it’s like to open the Puerta Grande of this arena and who left a good impression last year both in San Isidro and in the bullfight on August 15.

Ramos and Resurrección, two lineups “very much of Madrid,” with the raw material as the central axis of the spectacle. Now it’s the turn of the aficionado, who must support this type of bullfight with their attendance, something that is so much demanded during the winter colloquiums and so fervently requested through social media.

Cartel toros, Domingo Resurrección, 31 marzo 2024
Bullfighting poster, 31 March 2024. Easter Sunday
José Miguel Arruego

José Miguel Arruego

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