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'A huge personality': Tributes paid as racing pundit John McCririck dies aged 79

The presenter was one of the best known faces in the sport.

John McCririck in 2013
John McCririck in 2013
Image: INPHO

Updated Jul 5th 2019, 2:53 PM

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to racing journalist John McCririck who has died aged 79.

The pundit featured prominently on racing footage with ITV and Channel 4, where he became well-known for his off-beat wardrobe and energetic personality.

In January 2005, he was a contestant in the third series of Celebrity Big Brother.

He was also an award-winning journalist for his work as a betting tipster for the Sporting Life.

However, he was cut from Channel 4′s coverage of horse racing in 2012 in an acrimonious split.

His family had previously reported that he had been ill recently, but he continued to make various media appearances.

A statement released by his family said he “transcended the world of racing”.

Nicknamed Big Mac, McCririck became a household name in the UK during the 1980s but his passion for racing began from his time at school, according to his family’s statement.

John’s interest in horse racing 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.

TV presenter Piers Morgan paid tribute to McCririck, saying he was “as funny as he was outrageous”. 

“He spoke his mind, loved to ruffle feathers, was as funny as he was outrageous, and had such a deep knowledge of & tremendous passion for horse-racing. A great British character,” Morgan tweeted. 

Racing pundit Kevin Blake said he was a “huge personality”. 

Tweet by @Francis Keogh Source: Francis Keogh/Twitter

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said it was “saddened to hear” of his passing. 

“Throughout a lengthy & colourful career one thing was always clear – his enduring passion & love for the sport of horse racing,” the BHA tweeted.

“He was a recognisable figure & resonated with the wider public. Our condolences go to his family.”

With reporting by Hayley Halpin and © – AFP 2019

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