EVERY great race deserves a great commentary.
We’ve been treated to some absolute thrillers on the track over the years with some truly incredible performances in the commentary box to accompany them. Here are ten of the best…
Larry Collmus – 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Mucho Macho Man
A low, guttural bellow as Mucho Macho Man crossed the line was the perfect end to one of the great calls of all-time.
Larry Collmus, a golden veteran of the racing booth, put his heart, lungs and soul into his narrative of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup, a contest where Declaration Of War, Fort Larned and Will Take Charge all had winning chances inside the final furlong.
It was a race for the ages that was more than matched by its pent-up, over-zealous commentary.
Jim McGrath – 2009 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Sea The Stars
“He picks up Stacelita, he powers clear!” The revered Aussie tones of Jim McGrath were at their most melodious when calling home the greatest horse of a generation in the Arc.
It was Sea The Stars’ acid test, and, like all great commentators, ‘Croc’ had his eye fixed on the favourite throughout – despite the melee of everything going on in front.
The line “perfection in equine form” may well have been rehearsed, but it echoes in racing eternity.
Dessie Scahill – 2014 Irish Champion Stakes
The Grey Gatsby
This was a proper battle down the home straight and to this day Dessie Scahill’s lingering intonation of the words ‘Ryan Moore’ haunts the racing world.
Moore conjured up an astonishing late burst from The Grey Gatsby, to the surprise of everyone in the crowd – including Scahill himself.
Being the true professional that he was, it didn’t stop the polysyllabic tide, and his squawking towards the end of the race added plenty to the drama.
Simon Holt – 2000 Champion Chase
It’s hardly surprising Simon Holt features so heavily in the list – he’s the Don Corelone of commentating.
Unlike Corleone, his voice went almost supersonically high-pitched during the 2000 Champion Chase, a race that saw Tony McCoy wrest victory from the jaws of defeat aboard Edredon Bleu.
It was wonderful ride and one that caused Holt to almost lose his cool – note the squeak in the line “Edredon Bleu fights back on the near-side!”
Simon Holt – 2016 Champion Chase
This race and this commentary from Holt still bring a tear to the eye.
Sprinter Sacre, who had looked a shadow of his former self following a heart scare in 2014, came roaring back to form with a brilliant Champion Chase win in 2016.
You can hear the emotion pouring out of Holt and down the mic. If this doesn’t give you goosebumps nothing will.
John Hunt – McCoy’s 4000th winner
Perhaps not an obvious one for the list, but a blazing crescendo towards the end of the contest means its inclusion is fully deserved.
Mountain Tunes came with a fine late rattle to nail Kris Spin as John Hunt’s shrill expostulations garnished the mammoth achievement with the finest of lyrical turns.
John is one of my favourites and he gave McCoy the best call anyone could wish for.
Malcolm Tomlinson – 2018 York Stakes
I had to include this for pure comedic value, as well as it being a great call.
Dashing grey Thundering Blue weaved through under Fran Berry to land a thrilling renewal of the York Stakes.
In all the excitement, Malcolm Tomlinson began to lose his voice and let out a hilarious squeal as Thundering Blue crossed the line. Funny, but absolute class too.
Richard Hoiles – 2012 Champion Stakes
Frankel, the undisputed champion of the world, went out in a blaze of glory on his final career start.
He fluffed the start but cruised through the race and edged away from the gutsy Cirrus Des Aigles in front of a packed Ascot grandstand.
Richard Hoiles summed the horse and the occasion up perfectly in this stirring commentary.
Larry Collmus – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic
I love an American commentary, and the excellent Larry Collmus deserves a second entry on this list for this effort.
His call of Arrogate’s memorable defeat of California Chrome at the Breeders’ Cup was epic.
The up-and-comer wore down the favourite in a dramatic finish, and Collmus could barely contain himself.
Peter O’Sullevan – 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup
The late great Peter O’Sullevan provided us with the soundtrack to one of the most unforgettable Cheltenham Gold Cup’s of all time.
The legendary grey Desert Orchid looked cooked as mud-lover Yahoo moved into the lead after the second last.
But with the crowd roaring him on, the fan favourite began to rally bravely up the hill. The rest is history.