John McCririck has died at the age of 79, his family has announced.
Known as much for his ostentatious dress sense as his ebullient delivery, McCririck was a mainstay of racing coverage across ITV and Channel 4. In a tribute on Twitter, Racing Post called him “one of the sport’s most recognisable figures.”
A well-known figure even outside of the world of punditry and ponies, McCririck’s personality lended itself well to appearances on reality programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother and Wife Swap.
However, he was not without controversy. After being left out of the Channel 4 racing presenter team in 2012, McCririck claimed ageism.
An employment tribunal later found against him, declaring that “all the evidence is that Mr McCririck’s pantomime persona, as demonstrated on the celebrity television appearances and his persona when appearing on Channel 4 Racing, together with his self-described bigoted and male chauvinist views, were clearly unpalatable to a wider potential audience.”
In a statement confirming his death, his family paid tribute to “his flamboyant broadcasting style from the heart of the betting ring [that] proved extremely popular with racing fans and beyond.”
They noted that his interest in the sport and betting “began at Harrow where he was the school bookie. On leaving he worked for an illegal street bookmaker then legally on-course where he learned the art of tic-tac, clerking bets and making a book.”
The statement confirmed that McCririck passed away at a London hospital on Friday 5th July, aged 79. He is survived by Jenny, his wife of 48 years.