By Andrew Adermann
There are few more intriguing and heartwarming stories in Queensland racing than that of the legendary Chief De Beers – and that story will soon add another chapter.
The Chief’ as he was affectionately known, a former police horse and current Living Legend tenant will soon be honoured with a Blue Cross Medal to recognise his remarkable service to the community.
Chief De Beers will no doubt be remembered as the ‘King of Doomben’, where he claimed all 20 of his career wins.
He won the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 in 1995 and 1998, as well as 10 other black-type races at the course.
He was twice placed in Group 1 races at Eagle Farm, and also placed at Flemington, Caulfield, Moonee Valley and the Gold Coast, but Doomben remained the only track where he tasted success.
The Doomben Hall of Fame inductee was retired in 1999, drawing curtains on a career that saw 51 starts for 20 wins, 17 placings and more than $1.5 million in prize money.
In retirement ‘The Chief’ continued to flourish as a mounted police horse for the Queensland Mounted Police, where his decade-long service mirrored his racing tenure – distinguished and decorated.
He served as a ceremonial escort at a number of high-profile events, including the Royal Queensland Show opening and the appointment of the Queensland Governor – later serving as the Governor’s designated police horse.
However, the Chief wasn’t there just for show, he was regularly engaged in a number of searches for missing persons as well as offenders.
He was also seen at Suncorp Stadium on game days, where he dictated terms like days gone by as a crowd control horse for the Service.
After a decade in the force, he was retired in 2012 and now lives out his days at the famous Living Legends paddock in Melbourne.
For the last eight years, he has enjoyed pats and selfies from the farm’s countless visitors but now at 28-years-old, the champion Queenslander is about to receive another feather in his cap.
Chief De Beers will soon be honoured with the prestigious Blue Cross Medal for his service as a member of the Queensland Police, and his community engagement with Living Legends.
Nominated by the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation in conjunction with the Blue Cross Fund in the United Kingdom, this prestigious honour dates back to the 1900s and is bestowed upon animals in service to acknowledge their loyalty alongside their human comrades.
"We are very proud that Chief De Beers is receiving such deserved recognition as the recipient of the 2020 Blue Cross Australia/New Zealand Award,” Living Legends CEO and Veterinary Director Dr Andrew Clarke said.
“He had a decorated career with Queensland Police after retiring from a very successful racing career, and 'life after life after racing' has seen Chief become a very popular racing ambassador meeting and mingling with fans of all ages from primary school students to residents at seniors' homes."
The Medal is on its way from the United Kingdom, and will be presented to The Chief upon arrival at the Living Legends farm.
Blue Cross representative Nigel Allsopp was thrilled to welcome Chief De Beers as a recipient and will present the Blue Cross Medal later this year.
"He was an amazing horse, having won $1.5 million for his owner Barry Greenup before being donated to the QPS,” Allsopp said.
“His achievements have been far and wide ranging from numerous patrols of venues such as the Woodford Folk Festival, Schoolies on the Gold Coast, patrols of Ipswich, the City and Fortitude Valley working all sorts of hours; in short he was a shift worker."
At 28, The Chief’s best days are behind him, but he will forever be remembered as a Queensland legend, both on and off the track.