Brazilian jockeys might be the flavour of the month in Hong Kong but if it wasn’t for the trailblazing efforts of new arrival Eurico da Silva, and the veteran’s generosity, reigning champion Joao Moreira may never have even found his way to Asia.
The latest Brazilian to hit town starts a month-long stint at Happy Valley on Wednesday night but Da Silva was already wooing the media on Tuesday with a catchphrase that is sure to be a hit with locals.
“Good luck to everybody,” Da Silva exclaimed at the end of his meet-the-press function at Sha Tin – the line a trademark-ending to his television interviews at his Canadian base, Woodbine racetrack, where the 40-year-old is a three-time champion and returned 201 winners last season.
Da Silva arrives hot on the heels of compatriot Silvestre de Sousa’s impressive 15-win winter sojourn and he joins a jockey roster over which Moreira has reigned at record-breaking levels for nearly two and-a half years.
“Joao has done amazingly well, but I am not surprised, he has always been a very talented rider,” Da Silva said, before explaining the role he played in bringing the Magic Man’s sublime skills from Sao Paulo to Singapore in 2009.
“I was riding in Singapore on a short stay and doing quite well and I was asked if I would like to stay full time,” recalled Da Silva, who before that had extensive experience riding in Macau.
“But at that time I was just starting to really get some success and more support at Woodbine, so I had to say no, but I did say, ‘I know a guy who you should be getting’, and I told them about Joao.”
At the time, despite having more than 1,000 winners, Moreira was still toiling in the relative anonymity of his homeland, but what followed was four riding titles at Kranji and the start of a meteoric rise to stardom that hasn’t stopped yet.
“It’s true, if it wasn’t for Eurico, then who knows where I would be,” Moreira said. “He showed the way by coming to ride in Asia and proving Brazilian jockeys could be successful overseas. And it isn’t just me he has helped, he has helped a lot of other people as well.”
Da Silva also played a part in Singapore’s current leading rider Manoel Nunes’ relocation, initially to Macau, and also Fausto Durso, who rode successfully across the region before his tragic death last year in Brazil.
“Horses are my life, they are my God,” Da Silva said. “It gives you a great feeling to see a happy and healthy horse out in the field having fun after his career is over.”
Like his countryman, Da Silva has the advantage of being a natural lightweight and starts his stay with a couple of decent chances among his book of four rides.
Win or lose, Da Silva said just competing at Wednesday night’s races will be a dream realised. “Everybody has a dream and mine was to ride in Hong Kong, so I’m going to grab this opportunity with both hands,” he said. “When I was riding in Macau more than 10 years ago, I would come here just to watch races and I promised myself that I would work very hard to one day ride here.”