Famous Racecourse Commentators in the UK

Being famous in the world of horse racing doesn’t mean you have to be a horse or a jockey. Many commentators also enjoy cult status in this community, thanks to their ability to enhance the viewing experience, thanks to their ability to bring this beautiful sport closer to the masses.  

We love them for many reasons. Some commentators stand out with their narration skills. Others are famous for their ability to capture the intensity of the race. But all of them have the same ability – to establish an emotional connection between the audience on one, and horses and jockeys on the other side. They are legends because of their unique approaches to their profession. They are all different, but that distinctiveness made them famous. Unique styles, catchphrases and memorable moments – those are just some of the things that come to mind. Therefore, let’s take a moment to celebrate these unique icons of the sport:

Peter O'Sullevan

Anyone who has ever been into horse racing needed no more than a second to recognize the unique voice of Peter O’Sullevan, the legendary commentator and journalist who is often regarded as one of the greatest legends of his profession. Besides its distinctive voice, appreciated its deep knowledge of horse racing, along with eloquent commentary, which created a unique blend that shaped generations of horse racing lovers.

O’Sullevan was born in Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland, and began his career as a journalist and broadcaster, working for the BBC. Initially, he was covering a variety of sports but eventually established himself as an elite horse racing commentator who would earn lasting fame.

With the career started back in the 1940s, he was a witness of so many legendary events, providing commentary for the most prestigious races in the UK, such as Grand National, the Derby, Cheltenham Gold Cup and many more.

It’s hard to describe O'Sullevan in a few words. He was known for his smooth and elegant commentary style, characterised by his clear diction, enthusiasm, and ability to capture the excitement of a race. But we also loved his ability to convey the drama of a race and connect with listeners. That’s what made him a beloved and respected figure.

Besides participating in so many iconic events, O’Sullevan contributed to the horse racing commentary in the way that he coined several popular terms and phrases, many of which are still used by younger generations of commentators today. For example, he famously referred to the Grand National's Becher's Brook as "Foinavon's fence" after a surprise winner in 1967, and the term "The Greatest Show on Turf" became associated with the Cheltenham Festival.

O'Sullevan was not only dedicated to his work as a commentator but also actively involved in charitable endeavours. He was a co-founder of the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust, which supports various charities related to horse racing and animal welfare. Moreover, O'Sullevan authored several books on horse racing, including autobiographical works and books on specific races.

All these contributions to horse racing didn’t go unnoticed. Eventually, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for his services to broadcasting and horse racing. In 1998, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

Peter O'Sullevan's legacy continues to influence the world of horse racing broadcasting and commentary. His voice and contributions are remembered fondly by racing fans, and he is often cited as an inspiration for future generations of commentators.

Sir Anthony "Tony" McCoy

Sir Anthony "Tony" McCoy, often referred to simply as AP McCoy, is a retired Northern Irish horse racing jockey who is widely regarded as one of the greatest jockeys in the history of the sport. He is renowned for his remarkable achievements, incredible dedication, and unparalleled success in the world of horse racing.

After retiring from his illustrious career as a jockey, Sir Anthony "AP" McCoy transitioned into a successful career in horse racing commentary and broadcasting.  Of course, his deep knowledge of horse racing and his charismatic personality made him a natural fit for a career in broadcasting, so he quickly became a sought-after commentator and pundit for various horse racing events.

So, participation in television programs and channels dedicated to horse racing coverage came naturally. He provided commentary and analysis for all kinds of major racing events, starting from the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival, and more.

As for the commentary style, there’s no need to spend too many words on how years of experience as a jockey provided him with unique insights into the strategies, challenges, and dynamics of horse racing. His biggest quality has always been the ability to break down races and explain the intricacies of the sport to viewers in such a simple way. Because of that, his commentary was valued by both seasoned racing fans and casual viewers.

Besides commentary, McCoy often participated in panel discussions and interviews where he shared his views on various aspects of horse racing, including race tactics, horse form, and the mental and physical demands of being a jockey.

All in all, the transition from being a jockey to a commentator allowed him to continue contributing to the sport he loves. His engaging commentary style and in-depth knowledge only helped him maintain the status of a respected figure in the horse racing community.

Simon Holt

Known for his distinctive and enthusiastic commentary style, Simon Holt definitely earns the place of one of the most renowned British horse racing commentators and broadcasters. That unique style especially made him a popular figure among horse racing enthusiasts. His career started in journalism and broadcasting, but with his passion for horse racing coverage, it was just a matter of time before he would bring his unique skillset to this beautiful sport and eventually become one of the most familiar voices of the sport.

Now, let’s get back to his unique style. Holt is recognised for his engaging and descriptive commentary, with a knack for capturing the excitement of a race and conveying the tension, drama, and intricacies of the sport to viewers in such an artistic way.

Soon enough, Holt would start providing commentary for numerous major horse racing events, including prestigious races like the Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival, the Epsom Derby, and more. And, we have no doubt his commentary added to the overall experience of watching these high-profile races.

But Holt isn’t just a commentator. His knowledge extends way beyond, as we are talking about a person who has been involved in presenting and hosting various horse racing programs, where he provided insights, analysis, and interviews with jockeys, trainers, and other key figures in the racing world.

What’s also worth mentioning is that he has worked for both television and radio platforms, bringing his commentary skills to a wide range of audiences. In short, he is a legend in both mediums and what horse racing enthusiasts particularly appreciate is his ability to work well with others and contribute to a cohesive broadcast team.

All in all, Simon Holt's commentary style, knowledge, and passion for the sport have earned him a dedicated following among horse racing fans. He is often praised for his ability to convey the excitement of racing and make the viewing experience more enjoyable.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles is another well-known and highly respected British horse racing commentator and broadcaster. Smooth and engaging commentary style made him a respected and popular figure within the horse racing community.

Hoiles has established himself as a prominent racecourse commentator and presenter, primarily in the realm of horse racing, because of his unique ability to provide commentary that’s concise and descriptive at the same time, something that really enhances the viewing experience for racing enthusiasts. Moreover, we always loved his calm and composed commentary style, as well as measured delivery and insightful analysis. Hoiles always had that unique skill to help viewers follow the action and gain a deeper understanding of the races in such a straightforward way.

And, like any other commentary legend, he’s been involved in the most prestigious races and events multiple times. Grand National, Cheltenham Festival, and Royal Ascot are just some of them. His contributions to the coverage of these high-profile races have been highly appreciated by audiences.

During his career, Hoiles has worked across different broadcasting platforms, including both television and radio. Besides live commentary, he also provided recap shows, and analysis segments, which only showcased his versatility as a commentator even more.

And like many racecourse commentators, Hoiles has collaborated with other commentators, presenters, and experts in the field of horse racing broadcasting. He has always been respected by his colleagues because of his ability to work seamlessly with others and contribute to the overall quality of the coverage.

To summarise, Hoiles' commentary not only captures the excitement of horse racing. It also provides insights into race tactics, horse form, and jockey decisions. There aren’t many commentators who have such a unique ability to enhance the viewing experience for both casual fans and dedicated racing enthusiasts.

John Hunt

When we talk about horse racing commentators known for his contributions to the sport, it’s hard not to mention John Hunt. He has been involved in providing commentary for a variety of horse racing events, including some of the most prestigious races in the United Kingdom.

But more than that, he is known for his engaging and descriptive commentary style, which has made him a familiar voice in the world of horse racing broadcasting. As we’ve just mentioned, Hunt has been involved in providing commentary for major horse racing events, including some of the most famous races in the UK, but his unique style is what made him famous.

As a commentator, Hunt is known for his deep knowledge of horse racing and his ability to provide insightful analysis during live broadcasts. When you listen to his commentary, you can always hear details about the horses, jockeys, trainers, and race dynamics. Not many commentators put so much attention to detail.

That made him famous among enthusiasts – that unique capability to capture the excitement and intricacies of the races with so many details. He belongs to a small group of horse racing commentators that played a vital role in enhancing the viewing experience for fans, with context, analysis, and emotional narration that helped audiences create a special connection with the sport.

Mark Johnson

Known for his distinctive and energetic commentary style, Johnson has been a familiar voice in the world of horse racing for many years and definitely is someone who made a significant contribution to the sport and his profession. Enthusiastic and engaging commentary style earned him a dedicated following among horse racing enthusiasts.

Johnson is often recognised for his high-energy delivery and the excitement he brings to his commentary. His descriptive narration adds to the drama and intensity of the races he covers. And with such unique quality, it doesn’t surprise that he provided commentary for so many famous events. And, he never was just an ordinary commentator, he was an integral part of the coverage of these important racing events.

In addition to race commentary, Johnson has been involved in various broadcasting roles within the horse racing industry. Presenting, hosting, and providing analysis for different horse racing programs are just some of the things that come to mind, which solidified his status as a respected figure in the sport even more.