Since the turn of the century, no other school has dominated carnival with the kind of success meted out by Beija-Flor, with six titles to its name since 2003 alone. Last year's homage to São Luis, the once-magnificent city in the north of the country, failed to win over the judges, however, knocking the humming-bird well and truly off its perch into fourth place. The level of expectation now borne by the school has made it one of the most secretive and strictly run, with a commission of creative controllers at the helm rather than one carnavalesco as is the norm. The rather unlikely theme this year is a homage to the noble Mangalarga Marchador race of horse, bred in Brazil in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and exported around the world for their grace and intelligence. Beija-Flor, Pracinha Wallace Paes Leme 1025, Nilópolis. Rehearsals Thursdays, 8pm.
- Founded - 1948
- Titles - 12
- Colours - Blue and white
- Theme - Mangalarga Marchador horse
- Queen - Raissa Oliveira
- Last won - 2011
- Fact - In a spectacular raid on Beija-Flor President Anísio Abrãao David's penthouse on Copacabana Beach shortly before Carnival 2012, the Military Police parked a helicopter on the wall of the building as officers rappelled in, only to find his wife and children having breakfast and David nowhere to be seen. He is suspected of running organised crime in the city and using the money to fund the samba school.
- Chances - 8/1 (always among the favourites)
- Read our full guide to Rio Carnival 2013