Former racehorse and police horse Chief de Beers passed away peacefully on Friday, July 17, weeks shy of his 29th birthday.
Affectionately known as ‘Chief’, he was a celebrated champion, particularly when racing at Doomben where he was victorious in 20 of 51 races, with 17 placings.
‘Chief’ being ridden by longtime handler, Acting Sergeant Belinda Worthington. Photo credit: Tracey Bavinton
Upon his retirement from racing in 1999, Chief was donated by his owners and recruited into the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Mounted Police Unit.
With the strong instinct to lead the team from his racing days still well intact, Chief’s duties ranged from ceremonial escorts at the opening of the Royal Queensland Show, to operational patrols, and later as the Governor’s police horse.
His former handler, Acting Sergeant Belinda Worthington, said she had a great relationship with Chief.
“We just clicked – I loved riding him,” Acting Sergeant Worthington said.
“He was my main patrol horse for around nine years, and the horse I used for ceremonies.”
Acting Sergeant Worthington had a particular bond with Chief, telling tales of the two of them breaking up street brawls, bravely entering a bush fire, and putting a regal hoof forward to herald public events.
“His gutsy temperament was also his strength,” Acting Sergeant Worthington said.
“You couldn’t use force to retrain his instinctive and programmed racing behaviour.”
Chief, second from left, part of the guard of honour at the funeral of a fellow a police officer
Chief de Beers retired from the QPS in 2012, where he was given a Vice-Regal send-off, before moving to Living Legends in Victoria to see out his retirement.
He was recently awarded the prestigious Blue Cross Medal for his service to the community by the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation, in conjunction with the Blue Cross Fund in the United Kingdom.
Vale, Chief de Beers. Thank you for your contribution to keeping Queenslanders safe.
Chief de Beers served the Queensland Police Service valiantly