Racing: O'Sullevan and Wilson in rift

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The Independent Online
JULIAN WILSON yesterday spoke publicly for the first time of the revelation in his autobiography that he "felt betrayed" by Peter O'Sullevan, his colleague for decades at the BBC.

In Some You Win, published yesterday, Wilson tells of a disagreement between O'Sullevan and himself over when the "Voice of Racing" would retire. Wilson claims he turned down the job of commentating for ITV in 1981 because O'Sullevan had told him he intended to retire at the age of 65 in 1983.

However, O'Sullevan subsequently informed his colleague, in what Wilson thought was his final year, that this "retirement" would be from journalism, not from commentating.

"I was quite shattered, but the ITV job had gone," Wilson writes. "It cannot be denied that the misunderstanding affected my relationship with O'Sullevan. I felt betrayed."

Speaking on BBC Radio Five yesterday, Wilson affirmed his professional admiration for O'Sullevan: "I bow to no one in my admiration for Peter. He was the ultimate. He was a brilliant commentator - he set a standard to which we all aspired - he was a great colleague and I was privileged to work with him."

However, then he added: "But obviously some people didn't find him the easiest person to work with."

Asked for his reaction to Wilson's autobiography, O'Sullevan responded: "I haven't read the book so I am not in a position to comment. I hope the book does well, that's all."

Another revelation in Wilson's autobiography concern a strained relationship with Clare Balding, his co-presenter in recent years of the BBC television's racing coverage.

"Even Clare was beginning to get on my nerves," writes Wilson, who admits to plotting an attempt to embarrass her on air during Glorious Goodwood last year with a bogus viewer's fax from a Miss R Soles.

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