Monday 23 September 2019

Famous racehorse commentators

With billions of pounds generated each year, horse racing is one of the most lucrative sports around. Hundreds of races take place every year and the upcoming King George VI Chase is one of the major races coming up. The King George race odds suggest that last year’s winning Might Bite is the favourite to win the race for the second consecutive year, but all of the horses and their trainers will be aiming to cross the finish line first.

Horse racing is an enjoyable sport to watch on its own, but the race day experience is even better thanks to the commentators. Although their primary aim is to inform the listeners or viewers, they also provide entertainment by going above and beyond what is expected by giving them a sensation racing experience. Here’s some of the most famous and memorable horseracing commentators of all time, which helped the sport grow into one of the biggest in the world.

Peter O’Sullevan 

The late Peter O’Sullevan was arguably one of the most famous horse racing commentators of his generation. For the entirety of his career, O’Sullevan became the ‘voice of racing’ due to his long-standing run as the BBC’s leading horse racing commentator. During the 50 years he was on the air (1947 – 1997), O’Sullevan commentated over some of the greatest moments in racing history. His most iconic moments came at the Grand National were he provided commentary for Foinavon’s outside win in 1967, and at the infamous 1993 Grand National race.

Peter Bromley 

Another famous horse racing commentator from the BBC was Peter Bromley. Whilst O’Sullevan was the voice of horse racing on the television channel, Bromley made his name as a horse racing commentator on the radio. His first broadcast came in May 1959 when he commentated at Newmarket. Later that year, Bromley officially became the BBC’s first racing correspondent. He would go on to remain in that role until 2001. The veteran commentator came up with many iconic lines such as “Atom Bomb has fallen!” in his first ever commentary. 

Bromley also commentated on TV briefly with ITV in the early 1950s, but quit this role after a few years in order to take up his role on BBC Radio. 

Michael O’Hehir 

Whilst O’Sullevan and Bromley were dominating the horse racing commentary team in Britain, Michael O’Hehir was the voice of racing in Ireland. However, the Irishman originally started out his commentary career by commentating over the Irish hurling and Irish football games. Sports broadcasting was fairly new in the country at the time, but listening O’Hehir’s commentary quickly became a common thing for many listeners. As a result, O’Hehir was considered the first ‘Voice of the Gaelic games’. 

He eventually ended up getting involved in horse racing in the mid-1940s as a sports sub-editor as well as continuing to provide commentary on the radio. His rise in Ireland led to him being awarded a job as a racing commentator on the BBC. His first commentary was for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but O’Hehir became famous for his annual coverage for the Grand National. He provided some memorable moments during his lengthy spell as Grand National commentator, including in 1967 where he was able to identify the unfavourable 100/1 outsider ‘Foinavon’ who eventually won the race.