Bulls take down bullfighters but still lose in Spain

Story highlights

Two bulls put three bullfighters out of commission

The annual festival is Spain's largest

31 bullfights make up the event, from May 9 to June 8

Madrid CNN  — 

Chalk one up for the first two bulls at Spain’s top annual bullfighting festival.

Between them, they gored or bashed three bullfighters, putting them out of action, and forcing authorities to suspend a bullfight at the San Isidro Festival in Madrid for the first time in 35 years, said a spokesman for Las Ventas bullring, who by custom is not identified.

In front of a sold-out crowd of 24,000 at the historic bullring on Tuesday – and a national television audience – the first bull, weighing just over half a ton (532 kilograms) gored the first bullfighter, David Mora, in the left leg. He had to leave to get medical treatment.

But the tradition says the bull must die, so in stepped the second bullfighter, Antonio Nazare, who finished him off.

Next, it was time for the second bull, weighing slightly more than the first at 537 kilograms. He would prove even more dangerous.

The third bullfighter, Saul Jimenez Fortes, started with him, but Nazare, who as second bullfighter on the card would normally have faced the second bull, exercised his right to step in, replacing Jimenez in the ring.

But the second bull promptly butted Nazare so hard in the knees that he had to be carted off to the on-site infirmary.

That left Jimenez as the last bullfighter standing, so he again entered the ring, still facing the second bull. As he moved in for the kill, he was gored in the right leg, but managed to stay afoot until the bull died. Then Jimenez joined his colleagues in the infirmary.

There were still four more bulls to fight that day, out of the usual six on the card. But no more bullfighters in the shiny suit of lights. So authorities called it off.

The San Isidro festival, named for Madrid’s patron saint, features 31 fights this year, from May 9 to June 8. It pays top dollar to the top bullfighters.

The three injured bullfighters are recovering in a hospital. And the four bulls that didn’t fight were returned to their ranches, safe and sound.

Spain’s Catalonia region bans centuries-old bullfighting