Back in the day we were brought up on a sporting diet of cricket in the summer and football and rugby in the winter.
Each sport had their commentators….cricket was blessed with the statistics, musings and distractions of Richie Benaud, Brian Johnstone and Raleigh Gilbert. Football relied on the excited contributions delivered by David Coleman, Kenneth Wolstenholme and Brian Moore. Rugby Union had the services of rugged Bill McClaren to bring to life the rucks. scrums and mauls of the fifteen game, while Eddie Waring was synonymous with Rugby League.
The voices of these commentators became part of the fabric of The Wattmeister’s early life and indeed have stayed with him as a measure of excellence over the years.
However, coming from a dynasty of on-course bookmakers, there was one voice which rose above all others. Whether he was ‘calling’ an easy three horse race, or the impossible stampede of horseflesh and jockeys silks that is the Stewards Cup at Goodwood, Sir Peter O’Sullevan was the voice that the Young Wattmeister most wanted to emulate.
“The Voice of Racing”. His career spanned decades. In the winter jumps seasons, he commentated on Arkle, Mill House and Flyingbolt…Bula, Sea Pigeon, Night Nurse, Best Mate and Istabraq and a host of other great horses. When the racing code switched to “The Flat”, he covered the finest moments of some of the most superb racehorses of all time…Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Shergar, Dancing Brave, Generous, Grundy and Bustino… in his inimitable calm and measured style which rose seamlessly to the inevitable crescendo as the winning line approached.
His commentaries were a reflection of his love of the game, imbued as they were with kindness, reassurance, excitement, knowledge, accuracy and a voice that was easy on the ear.
One day in 1983 when I was working at Sandown for bookmaker ‘Lulu’ Mendoza, Sir Peter walked past the pitch and indulged me as I commentated the finish of the day’s big hurdle race back to him in his own style…”…not bad son, but don’t give up the day job…”.
Here is his interpretation of one of the greatest races of all time, the 1975 King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Grundy and Bustino