PUEBLO, Colo. – Guilherme Marchi let out a vociferous laugh from deep within his lungs inside the locker room during the Ty Murray Invitational last month.
He then turned and looked at Robson Aragao, who was amidst one of his own laughing fits in a chair across from Marchi.
“I have two kids now,” Marchi said before pointing at Aragao. “And with him, I have three kids.”
Aragao glanced up from his own story, before rolling his eyes, and replied, “Oh my goodness.”
Even though Aragao is three years older than Marchi, he has become a pupil of Marchi’s over the past few months.
Aragao moved in to Marchi’s ranch earlier this year before his wife, Vanessa, and daughter, Rafaeli, recently moved back to the United States from Brazil this month.
It was during the first couple months of the season that Aragao trained side-by-side with Marchi every day of the week when he lived in a guest house on Marchi’s property.
The two bull riders went to the gym, attended gymnastics classes, rode on horseback, worked on Marchi’s ranch and team roped together.
Throughout the week, Marchi would speak about mental toughness to Aragao, while the elder bull rider pushed Marchi in the weight room.
“Guilherme has helped me a lot and all the time,” Aragao said. “I like living with Guilherme because he is a really good guy and a lot of fun. Every day we work on the ranch and ride horses. We go to the gym together and prepare for events.”
Marchi added, “He is so strong. His determination when he works out is good for me because he pushes me. We try to do new exercises to see what is good for us. We try to eat healthy and drink a lot of water and try to get ready to compete at this level.”
The time together has been extremely beneficial for Aragao.
The 35-year-old is off to his best start since 2010, when he competed in 20 Built Ford Tough Series events.
Aragao, who finished in third place – a career-best – last weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, is currently the 25th bull rider in the world standings and has already set a career-high with nine qualified rides in 23 attempts.
Coincidentally, the last time Aragao competed on the BFTS in consecutive weeks, he was living with Marchi. In 2010, Aragao lived with Marchi for a year and a half when he competed in 20 BFTS events and finished the year 55th in the world standings.
Until this season, Aragao hadn’t competed on the BFTS since riding at two events in 2011.
Aragao and Marchi first met in 2004 at a bull riding in Barretos, Brazil, and the two stayed in touch once Aragao arrived in the United States in 2008 – the same year in which Marchi won the PBR world title.
“I knew Guilherme in Brazil a long time ago,” Aragao said. “Guilherme is one of the toughest guys when it comes to riding. I believe Guilherme is ready for another title.”
The biggest thing Marchi, who is fifth in the world standings, stressed to Aragao was how to mentally focus at BFTS events and to learn how to block out all outside distractions.
“I talked to him a lot,” Marchi said. “I told him not to worry about bulls that go away from your hand or what people will say. Just try to do your best and cover your bulls. Put your rope in the exact spot you need to put it and ride strong. Look up and try to stay in the middle of those bulls and do your job.”
Aragao said, “It is a lot of conversation. Guilherme has good things to tell me and that is good conversation about how to prepare to ride. He is helping me. He was telling me to just ride the bull and stick with it. Close your legs, stay on the bull, open the gate and spur. This I try now. It is more concentration. He says to relax in the bucking chute and get in good position to ride.”
It wasn’t pretty in Des Moines, but Aragao was one of three riders to put together two qualified rides. Aragao first rode Flip Out for 83.75 points before making 8 seconds on Say I Won’t Playboy for 84.25 points.
Aragao had an opportunity for the victory, but was bucked off at the 7.66-second mark by Stuntin Like My Daddy in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“I thought he drew bulls that fit him this weekend,” two-time World Champion Justin McBride said. “It was a huge opportunity for him because he picked a bull that couldn’t have fit him any better. If I was picking for him, that is the bull I would have picked for him. He knew it. He was upset about it, but it was a good showing. That is what Robson is capable of. I don’t think you are ever going to see him ride Mick E Mouse or those bulls, but he is capable of riding those good long rounders and if he can pick where he wants in the championship round, he has a chance.”
Aragao will face Uncle Tink (1-1, BFTS) in Round 1 and Over The Top (0-0, BFTS) in Round 2 of the Rumble in the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado this weekend.
Thanks to the 300 points he earned toward the world standings in Des Moines, Aragao has a little breathing room to relax some and not be as concerned with being cut and sent back to the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.
“Before I didn’t ride pretty good,” Aragao said. “I am not too young anymore. I need to be prepared for the Built Ford Tough Series. There is more pressure and it is harder than the Velocity events. The bulls buck harder. The rank bulls in the world come to the Built Ford Tough.”
Aragao has gone 14-for-22 in 11 BlueDEF Velocity Tour events, where he has accumulated 177.5 of his 597.5 points in the world standings.
Marchi believes Aragao has what it takes to compete at the Built Ford Tough World Finals this October.
“Oh, I know it is hard when you are outside the Top 30,” Marchi said. “It is hard to make money. It is expensive when you have kids, a wife and rent an apartment or something. You have a lot of bills. It is going to be better for him being on the Built Ford Tough.
“He wants to make the Finals this year and he is almost there. I am proud of him.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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