Wednesday 28 September 2016

Audio: Iconic 'Voice of Racing and a true gentleman' O'Sullevan dies

Published 30/07/2015 | 02:30

A minute's silence was held for Sir Peter O'Sullevan
A minute's silence was held for Sir Peter O'Sullevan

Tributes were paid to legendary commentator Sir Peter O'Sullevan by the greats of the racing world at the Galway Races.

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A minute's silence was observed at the Ballybrit track for the Kerry man who was described as "the greatest broadcaster of all time and a true gentleman".

Mr O'Sullevan died peacefully at his home yesterday at the age of 97. President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to the man known as 'The Voice of Racing'.

"He was an iconic figure. I remember listening to his commentary as a young person on the radio and his is a huge loss to the horse racing community," said Mr Higgins.

Trainers Gordon Elliot and Ted Walsh also paid tribute to the racing legend.

"It's a sad day. He was an amazing person and someone everyone looked up to. He was inspirational in every walk of life," said Mr Elliot.

Bookmaker Paddy Power said the world of racing was saddened by the news.

"It's very sad news. All my early memories of watching the racing greats involved a commentary by Sir Peter. We're lucky to have lots of great commentators, but it's hard to see him bettered," he added.

Born in Kenmare, Mr O'Sullevan was the commentator for the BBC for 50 years, a tenure stretching from 1947 until his retirement in 1997.

Known for his sharp mind, even well into his later life, he had a delivery like no other.

He was awarded a knighthood before his 50th and final Grand National commentary and until recently was still a regular visitor to the Cheltenham Festival.

Nigel Payne, chief executive of the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust, said: "Sir Peter died earlier this afternoon, very peacefully, at home. He 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."

Mr O'Sullevan began his career in racing in print journalism, working for the Press Association before joining the 'Daily Express'.

Known as one of the shrewdest punters in the game, he was still beating the bookies well into his later years. As well as being famous for his achievements behind the microphone, Mr O'Sullevan was also a successful horse owner.

He was married to Pat for over 58 years before she died peacefully on New Year's Eve in 2010 at the age of 89.

Irish Independent

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