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'Voice of Racing' Sir Peter O'Sullevan dies aged 97

Veteran racing commentator Sir Peter O'Sullevan has died at the age of 97, BBC Sport has announced.

He was the broadcaster's main commentator fro m 1948 to 1997.

BBC Sport described him as "a n icon in the sport" and the " Voice of Racing".

The broadcaster, who also worked for the Press Association's racing department, began his BBC career just after the Second World War when radio ruled the airwaves, but came to be a familiar face on television.

He also spent many years writing about racing at the Daily Express, offering its readers regular tips for big race winners.

Sir Peter, who was knighted in 1997, was born in Ireland to an English mother and Irish father but after their divorce lived with his maternal grandparents in their Surrey country house.

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

His love of racing began as a schoolboy when he put a lucrative sixpence each-way on the 100-1 winner Tipperary Tim in the 1928 Grand National.

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

"Sir Peter 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."

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said: "For half a century Sir Peter was the voice of horse racing on the BBC.

"He was a wonderfully talented commentator whose passion and deep knowledge of racing came through in every broadcast he made. He will be much missed."

Barbara Slater, Director BBC Sport said: "Peter O'Sullevan was one of the broadcasting greats and for over 50 years he was the voice of racing. Synonymous with the sport his distinctive commentary graced many of racing's historic moments - from Red Rum's Grand National victories to Desert Orchid's extraordinary Gold Cup triumph. Peter was a legendary commentator and will be greatly missed."

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