The late Sir Peter O’Sullevan, who died in July, 2015, aged 97, began his career as racing correspondent to the Press Association in 1944. Three years later, he became lead horse racing commentator at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), a position he would occupy, among others, until 1997. O’Sullevan was knighted for services to broadcasting in October that year.
All told, the ‘Voice of Racing’, as O’Sullevan became known, commentated on 50 Grand Nationals for BBC radio and television but, with the possible exception of the so-called ‘race that never was’ in 1993, the last of them, in 1997, was arguably the most extraordinary of them all. Originally scheduled for Saturday, April 5, the race was postponed for 48 hours when police received a coded bomb threat, linked to the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
When the so-called ‘Monday National’ did finally take place, Lord Gyllene, trained by Steve Brookshaw and ridden by Tony Dobbin, made all the running to win by 25 lengths. In his unmistakable, velvet tones, O’Sullevan called home the winner thus, ‘…racing towards the Elbow and Lord Gyllene is sprinting away with the 1997, 150th National. A fantastic performance of jumping this by Lord Gyllene; getting a tremendous reception from the crowd. A terrific performance this; Lord Gyllene carries the colours of Stanley Clarke to victory. Lord Gyllene is the winner of the 1997 National…’