PUEBLO, Colo. – Eduardo Aparecido leaned back in his chair and slowly unwrapped the medical tape on his right riding wrist.
His event winning belt buckle for his victory at the WinStar World Casino & Resort Invitational sat in his gear bag to his left as he began to pack up his gear.
Aparecido dropped his riding shirt into his bag and smiled as he began to talk about his 3-for-3 performance, which granted him his first win of the 2015 season and the second of his career.
Even before he won this past weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series event in Thackerville, Oklahoma, Aparecido had sneakily put together his best stretch of the 2015 season since a three-week run in February and March when he placed third in Kansas City, Missouri, ninth at Iron Cowboy and fifth in Fresno, California.
He began the second half with a seventh-place showing in Biloxi, Mississippi, before placing fifth in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and ninth in Nashville.
Aparecido finally was able to put everything together in Thackerville and quickly reminded fans and experts alike that the third-year pro had been a Top-10 bull rider in each of his first two seasons.
It is where Aparecido says he wants to get back too as well.
“I have been feeling good and I tried to comeback this year strong,” Aparecido said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “Before the break, I went home (to Brazil) and I came back and felt good and rode good. I look to come back and be back in the Top 10, Top 5.”
Aparecido admitted that when he first arrived in the United States in 2012 – he made his BFTS debut at the first two rounds of the 2012 World Finals – he was a little awe struck.
“I was ready, but I wasn’t ready for the big events,” he said.
Nowadays, Aparecido is comfortable on the BFTS and two-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Justin McBride believes the 25-year-old is starting to gain an added-sense of confidence in his third full season on tour.
“I don’t think we have seen the best out of him yet,” McBride said. “He is now just finding the best in himself. I think that showed in the championship round because he picked a bull that bucked him off before, and he knew he could the bull and that is exactly what he did.”
Aparecido completed his weekend of perfection with an 87.75-point ride on No Regrets. He previously had ridden Deja Voodoo for 85.25 points and Johnny’s Boy for 87.25 points earlier in the event.
He selected No Regrets with the fourth pick of the championship-round draft despite bucking off him in 2.75 seconds during the 2014 Last Cowboy Standing event in Las Vegas.
“That bull had bucked me off and I knew the bull would give me a big score” Aparecido said. “I thought I should be a bigger score.”
Aparecido hopes his four consecutive Top-10 finishes can help him continue to break out of his season-long lull.
The win moved him from 23rd in the world standings to 15th. He trails No. 10 Reese Cates by 375 points heading into this weekend’s PFI Invitational in Springfield, Missouri.
“I am really happy to win this event,” Aparecido said. “Sometimes I have been down this year because I was in a slump. To win an event, I can show everyone what I can do.”
Aparecido finished sixth in the world standings last season and seventh in 2014.
Like Kaique Pacheco, Aparecido is another rider that Alves has taken under his wing in recent years.
“He is very good friend of mine. He is like a brother,” Alves said. “He is a good guy and a good bull rider in the PBR now. He is riding all of the good bulls, but never have the guys in the PBR seen it a lot.”
Aparecido has gone 26-for-59 (44.07 percent) in 21 BFTS events.
Alves and PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert agreed with McBride that the best has yet to come from Aparecido.
“Sometimes he is scared to be confident to ride the bulls,” said three-time World Champion Silvano Alves. “Now, his confidence is like an older guy. He is growing up and gaining confidence to ride bulls.”
Lambert’s eyes lit up when asked if he thought Aparecido had another level within him.
“He has been getting better and better,” Lambert said. “He has a Silvano-type mentality where he doesn’t get too excited or too flustered. He has it going on.”
Lambert added that a gold buckle may be in the young bull rider’s future.
“Eduardo has been tough for a while and he is going to be a force at the end of the year,” Lambert said. “He might be too far down, but he probably has a World Championship in his future.”
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