Former police horse and Doomben champion Chief De Beers has passed away peacefully at the age of 28, just days after being presented with a prestigious Blue Cross Medal for his service to the community. It follows a long illness that was first treated five years ago and had recently required ongoing treatment before he was euthanised late today.
CEO & Veterinary Director, Dr Andrew Clarke, said the much-loved Chief will be remembered fondly for not only his incredible racing story but his enormous impact on people and the community.
"Chief was only small in stature but he was big on attitude and spark and kept us laughing right until the end. He will be sorely missed at Living Legends and his unique achievements as a champion both on and off the track will be his lasting legacy," Dr Clarke said.
Trained by Bill Calder, Chief De Beers had an extraordinary career with 20 wins from 51 starts, remarkably all at Brisbane's Doomben Racecourse. He earned prizemoney on 42 occasions and was placed in Group company at five other tracks around Australia (Eagle Farm, Gold Coast, Caulfield, Flemington and Moonee Valley) but couldn't win. At Doomben he was unbeatable, winning two Doomben 10,000s and nine other feature races at the track in the mid to late 1990s.
Chief De Beers was recruited by Queensland Police on retirement from racing in July 1999. He had a long and distinguished career including serving as the designated Governor's police horse as well as search and rescue missions, bushfire victim recovery and crowd control. He was inducted into the Doomben Hall of Fame while still a serving troop horse, before being retired to Living Legends in December 2012.
This year he was selected for a Blue Cross Medal by the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) in conjunction with the Blue Cross Fund (UK). This rare and prestigious honour dates back to the 1900s and is bestowed upon animals in service to acknowledge their loyalty serving alongside their human comrades.
"It's wonderful that Chief De Beers has received such deserved recognition as the recipient of the 2020 Blue Cross Australia/New Zealand Award. In addition to his extraordinary contribution as a police horse, 'life after life after racing' saw Chief become a very popular racing ambassador with fans of all ages from primary school students to residents at seniors' homes. He encapsulated what Living Legends is all about and it is a very fitting honour," Dr Clarke said.
"We extend our sincere condolences to his owners, the Greenup and Chapman families, his long-time companion Queensland Police Officer Belinda Worthington, and our team members who cared for him so lovingly every day," Dr Clarke said.
Chief De Beers will be cremated and laid to rest in the memorial garden at Living Legends alongside past champions including Might And Power, Better Loosen Up and Doriemus.