While he gave his voice a serious workout over 50 years of commentating for the BBC, the Irishman was not equally enthusiastic about exercise:
“The only exercise I get is walking to the betting office.”
O’Sullevan formed a close friendship with perhaps the greatest jockey of all time, Lester Piggott, and revealed to The Daily Telegraph last year that he felt it was his duty to bring up — whilst at a dinner with Queen Elizabeth II — why she had removed an honour from Piggott when he went to prison for tax evasion:
“I’ll tell you a story, name-dropping, of course. I was sitting next to the Queen at Windsor once and was looking for an opportunity. Lester had just come out of prison (after a tax evasion conviction). The one thing that really hurt him was his OBE being taken away. He felt it was wrong. So I thought this was an opportune moment, and launched into my Lester spiel to Her Majesty, who put down her knife and fork, and looked at me quite seriously for a moment.
“I had said to her: ‘Ma’am, admittedly he nourished the Treasury below the level of requirement. But…’ Then I went into the mitigating circumstances.
“She put down her knife and fork, as I say, and said: ‘I Iike the way you put it, but he was rather naughty you know. He was not only rather naughty, but he was very stupid, because he paid it [his tax bill] on a bank that hadn’t come up in the case, and hadn’t been investigated.’ ”
1973 Grand National
The gallant frontrunning Crisp got collared near the line by Red Rum, who won his first National and was booed by some parts of the crowd:
“He’s beginning to lose concentration – he’s been out there on his own for so long.”
1977 Grand National
A vastly different scenario as Red Rum under top weight wins his third Grand National to universal acclaim:
“The crowd are willing him home now. The 12-year-old Red Rum, being preceded only by loose horses, being chased by Churchtown Boy… They’re coming to the elbow, there’s a furlong now between Red Rum and his third Grand National triumph! And he’s coming up to the line, to win it like a fresh horse in great style. It’s hats off and a tremendous reception, you’ve never heard one like it at Liverpool. Red Rum wins the National!”
1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Remarkable Irish mare Dawn Run was bidding to add the ‘blue riband’ of the national hunt circuit to the 1984 Champion Hurdle. She remains the only horse to have achieved that double.
“They race towards the line, and the mare is beginning to get up.
“And as they come to the line. She’s made it. Dawn Run has won it. Dawn Run has won it from Wayward Lad.”
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