O’Sullevan hails ‘hero’ Oaksey
Wednesday 5 September 2012
Sir Peter O'Sullevan led the tributes to racing pioneer Lord Oaksey, who died on Wednesday morning at the age of 83.
Oaksey will always be associated with his work for injured jockeys, which began when Tim Brookshaw and Paddy Farrell suffered serious injuries at Aintree in the 1963-64 jumps season. He founded the Injured Jockeys' Fund in 1964 and was chairman from 1982-2002, after which he was president.
"He was a splendid man, one of my great heroes and he found everything quite light and entertaining," said O'Sullevan, BBC's 'voice of racing' for 50 years.
"He wrote like a dream and was a wonderful influence altogether. He did not have any natural ability riding, it was pure application, but he did become most successful. I had the great joy of calling him home in the Hennessy in 1958 on Taxidermist when it was run at Cheltenham. He just got beat in the Grand National in 1963 on Carrickbeg and he was always telling the story of the man he met on the underground, who said 'you were the man who got tired before his horse'!"
In 2008, Oaksey won the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Award for a lifetime's contribution to racing.
O'Sullevan said: "It was a very emotional occasion and enormously well received. He was very much touched by it."
Retired trainer Jack Berry worked alongside Lord Oaksey in his role as vice president of the IJF.
Berry told At The Races: "It's a very sad day. He was a star man in every respect. At trustee meetings, he would stand his corner for the beneficiaries and would give 100%. I can't speak highly enough of him. My thoughts are to his wife Chicky and daughter Sara at this very moment."
Journalist Brough Scott, who also worked with Oaksey for many years on television, is chairman of trustees for the IJF. He paid this tribute to his former colleague, saying: "He was a man of great talents, but an even greater heart. They say that no one is irreplaceable but there have to be exceptions to every rule."
Top trainer John Gosden said of Oaksey: "He was a truly great man. He was a great sportsman and a gentleman, and will be greatly missed. His sheer humility as well, that was one of the great things. He had all that. We know what he did in charity work, it was just unparalleled. He was a proper man of the last century. we mustn't forget his ideals because we are losing them a bit in this century."