Ricardo Gallardo Jiménez (Villafranca de Córdoba, 1951) has the appearance of a unique personality: frustrated bullfighter, successful businessman in the furniture business, rancher thanks to the profits from the wood, owner of Fuente Ymbro, —a prestigious and multi-awarded iron in modern bullfighting; It is not for nothing that he has already completed two bullfights and two bullfights this season in Las Ventas, and he has signed many others through October – married to Mari Paz, a woman with deep religious roots and a high understanding of solidarity, and father by a daughter who will not inherit hobby on the father’s side because he prefers to deal with the world of dogs.
Ricardo Gallardo has not lost the face of a man of the people, nor the special tone of the language of his hometown; Gifted with an outstanding natural intelligence and great work capacity, he established himself as a salesman in the furniture industry, which he accidentally entered in the 1970s, and in 20 years he made a name for himself as a cattle breeder. After the devastating pandemic, he’s trying to recoup money lost over the past two years and admits he’s not at all clear about what will become of his livestock in the medium term.
“Yes, I tried to be a bullfighter, but I didn’t last long,” Gallardo comments, “I started in the time of El Cordobés, I fidgeted like a suitcase for a few months and I don’t even make my debut with horses; Being a bullfighter is one of the most difficult jobs in life and I didn’t even have the courage to hold an almanac”.
The son of an entrepreneurial couple from the 1950s – they raised their three children on the income from an olive grove, a bar and a wagon that transported the neighbors to the train station – Ricardo Gallardo entered the furniture market at the invitation of a brother-in-law of his, from which he became independent in 1978 and continues to manage one of the leading companies in the sector, based in the city of Chiclana in Cadiz and with operations throughout the national territory.
“Furniture made it possible for me to be a rancher; There are those who prefer to buy a boat, but my dream is to breed bulls.”
“This business has allowed me to be a rancher, which is what I like best,” admits Gallardo. “Some prefer to buy a boat or skis in the Alps, but my dream was to breed bulls, so I’m happy; I have to admit that the bull gave me life.”
In 1996 he was able to buy the first cows and two farms – Fuente Ymbro and Los Romerales – in the municipality of San José del Valle in Cádiz and thanks to his friendship with Borja Domecq, owner of Jandilla, he was able to create his own stud farm with stallions of origin from Juan Pedro Domecq .
“You see, I’m very instinctive,” emphasizes the businessman and rancher. “When we started the furniture business, my wife and I spent three or four years away from the world and dedicated ourselves exclusively to work to save and fulfill our dream.”
Questions. And what does his wife say?
answer. Maria Paz? She is very cheerful and also affectionate. convey optimism. In addition, it is very religious and collaborates with several monasteries in Medina Sidonia and Chiclana. On important nights, like when we are fighting in Madrid, he asks the nuns to pray for the bulls to attack.
P. You only have one daughter.
R. Yes, and he did not enter this world of bullfighting. She goes with me, but what she likes are dogs.
P. So the future…
R. I’ve already turned 71 and I realize I only have ten left at most. But I am determined not to leave this problem to my daughter; Before I sell or give away the cattle. I have not decided yet.
Fuente Ymbro (“In Arabic, it means ‘Woman’s Well’ because there is an aquifer on the farm that, when full, spills water like a waterfall and is similar to when a woman’s water bursts before childbirth,” Gallardo explains ) acted for the first time in Las Ventas in 2002 and in a short time achieved the fame it enjoys today.
“I’m a big believer in luck,” says the rancher. “See if it’s the case that my cattle shoe bears a horseshoe, a symbol of good luck, the G of Gallardo and a cross for my wife’s religiosity.”
Fuente Ymbro is a large ranch – it has more than 400 calving cows – and the rancher is proud of it. “I don’t believe in short farms because they don’t guarantee a viable economic outcome,” he clarifies.
Due to the recent pandemic, Ricardo Gallardo has more than 200 bulls and oxen ready for the fight this season, which means he has already sold more than 30 bullfights.
P. Do you make money off the cops?
R. Winning, no, but until the pandemic came, it had cost me nothing. It makes no sense to enter this sector with the intention of making financial gain.
P. You have reiterated on various occasions that the pandemic has been a real nail for you.
R. The explanation is very simple. If you forecast billing 220 million pesetas a year and you only manage 70 with the few celebrations, the meat of the many animals I sent to the slaughterhouse and the subsidy that the Junta de Andalucía gives me has to achieve, you lose 150 million. But we have to add a serious complicating factor: lower bills but expenses are increasing because I have more animals eating every day and I have to keep the same workforce.
“I have 10 years left; I don’t know if I’m going to sell the cattle or give them away, but I’m not going to leave this problem to my daughter.”
P. A ruin…
R. A total ruin for all ranchers. And one more thing to note: the bullfights covered in the past year were paid for at a maximum discount of 50 percent of their value. Thankfully, 2022 prices are converging to pre-pandemic levels, but the cost of raising a bull has risen with the rate of inflation: feed, for example, is twice as expensive today as it was a year ago.
P. Or is his thing crazy?
R. That’s what some friends tell me I’m crazy…
P. Luckily the furniture was left…
R. The industry is doing well in the context of the current economy, but the company requires you to devote many hours to it. I can’t afford to pay more attention to the cops.
Despite everything, Ricardo Gallardo’s summer is hectic; It has many bulls and oxen on the grid, and the bullrings of Spain and France are its station and inn. Meanwhile, Mari Paz, his wife, follows his example and manages several properties owned by the family, the profits of which are dedicated to the monasteries.
I think he rented them,” Gallardo comments jokingly, “but I assure you I haven’t seen a single dollar of these apartments…”
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