Whenever that legendary performance is recalled Shulze playfully reminds Moreira that it should have been nine wins, and that he was defeated on a Shulze family-owned horse. “I was pissed at the time but I am over it now,” Shulze laughed.
The school had a remarkable record of producing top class talent early this century. Of the graduates during that golden era, Moreira won four Brazilian championships and four in Singapore, Silvestre de Sousa is a three-time British champion, Eurico Rosa da Silva was champion jockey in Canada seven times and Manoel Nunes recently clinched his fourth premiership in Singapore, to go with six titles in Macau.
There are only seven apprentice’s names on that board now, in line with a reduced horse population, and four more junior riders will join in the new year.
“We miss an idol, and for the first time in a long time in the sport, it will be good to have an icon riding on the track,” Shulze said. “A person that can be, for the young riders and apprentices to follow, somebody that was in the same situation as everybody here but crossed the Earth to find a better life and conquer the world.”
In Brazil Moreira is known as “Fantasma” – Portuguese for ghost – and his reappearance has delighted trainers, even if it is for a one-off guest spot for now.
Much of Moreira’s improvement from struggling apprentice to world class rider is credited to the late trainer Ivan Quintana, and three of the jockey’s rides on Saturday are for Quintana’s son Lucas.
“When he walked into the track the other day and I saw him I was standing right where my dad would have been,” Lucas said. “It brings back a lot of happy memories. I feel a lot of joy for the memories Joao created for my father.”