‘Voice of racing’ Sir Peter O’Sullevan passes away at 97
Former BBC racing commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan –– dubbed the Voice of Racing –– has died at home in London after a long illness, aged 97.
An icon in the sport, he commentated on 50 Grand Nationals and around 14,000 races before retiring in 1997.
Born in County Kerry in the Republic of Ireland, he was the BBC’s main racing commentator for half a century.
In 1997, he set up a charitable trust which has since raised huge amounts for animal and racing-related charities.
Nigel Payne, chief executive of that charitable trust, said: “Sir Peter died earlier this afternoon, very peacefully, at home.
“Sir Peter was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known.
“Only last week he was talking about what he wanted me to do for the trust in the future. He was still very alert. It’s a sad day.”
O’Sullevan was racing correspondent of the Daily Express for 36 years and also worked for the Press Association.
Also a successful racehorse owner, he was recognised for his contribution to horse racing at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival, when the National Hunt Chase bore his name for that year.
AP McCoy, 20-times champion jump jockey, described O’Sullevan as “an amazing man”, adding: “Sir Peter O’Sullevan, the epitome of class. The most distinguished and eloquent voice of racing.”
McCoy’s fellow jockeys Willie Carson and Jimmy Lindley, who both worked with O’Sullevan for the BBC, also paid tribute.
Carson said he had a voice like “velvet”, while Lindley said “no-one else could give you the same feeling watching a race”.
Lindley added: “He made it feel as if you were riding in it. You felt like you were on the horse yourself.”
TV presenter Clare Balding, a retired amateur jockey, wrote on Twitter that O’Sullevan was “incomparable, irreplaceable, indelible”, while Match of the Day host Gary Lineker said he was “indisputably one of the greatest sporting commentators of our time”.