For decades Peter O’Sullevan was one of the iconic sports commentators, providing the sound track for half a century of horseracing as he called home such legends of the sport as Arkle, Nijinsky, Red Rum and Desert Orchid.
His rapid-fire commentary seemed to echo the sound of horses’ hooves, and it was not long before he became known as ‘The Voice of Racing’.
But in addition to his legendary status as a TV personality, Peter O’Sullevan was also a notable journalist and much-admired writer, and it is a measure of his standing both within and beyond the world of racing that his compulsively readable autobiography Calling the Horses, first published in 1989 and reprinted eight times, reached the top of the SUNDAY TIMES non-fiction bestseller list.
The most recent edition of Calling the Horses was published in 1994, and the twenty years since then have brought many fresh episodes in the ongoing Peter O’Sullevan story, including the last racing days of his great friend Lester Piggott in 1995, his commentary on the ‘Bomb Scare’ Grand National of 1997, and his retirement from the BBC. He also describes setting up the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, which has raised over £3.5 million for animal welfare charities, as well as offering his appreciation of a new generation of racing heroes, including jockey AP McCoy, who has come to dominate jump racing in a manner unparalleled in any sport, and the wonder-horse Frankel.
The heartening news for the legions of Peter O’Sullevan fans is that, despite his years, his enthusiasm for racing is undiminished, and so are the elegance, fluency and wit which infuse his writing style.
This new and extensively updated edition of Calling the Horses is a very remarkable book by a very remarkable man.
...the literary equivalent of his commentating voice, which many of us can still hear as the soundtrack to our love of racing. The book, like his performances with microphone in hand, is mellifluous, funny, revealing and warm, much like the man.