Racing pundit blames ageism for Channel 4 sacking
JOHN McCririck, the racing pundit has spoken of his devastation after it was announced he has been dropped by Channel 4.
The Harrow-educated television tipster is to be replaced by a younger presenting team headed up by the acclaimed presenter Clare Balding.
McCririck said he was devastated at the decision and in typically outspoken style accused former BBC executives now running Channel 4 of treading the "well worn path of ageism".
He also expressed disappointment at only being informed of the decision half an hour before a statement was released to the press.
Speaking from Las Vegas, where he is preparing to attend the Breeder's Cup, McCririck said: "Naturally I'm devastated at being sacked after covering betting, first on ITV and then on Channel 4, for 31 years.
Miss Balding (41), a former jockey, won huge plaudits for her assured and commanding performance as one of the BBC's London 2012 anchors.
She has now been poached by Channel 4 to lead its revamped racing team, along with experienced broadcaster Nick Luck and racing reporters Alice Plunkett, Emma Spencer and Rishi Persad. But with the channel keen to attract a new and younger audience to horse racing, there is to be no place for one of the sport's most recognisable characters.
Instead Tanya Stevenson will provide information on the betting markets.
Mr McCririck said: "It had always been a dream of mine to report from the racecourse betting jungles of Aintree and Ascot (C4's new additions for next year). But according to Channel 4 I'm being sacked after audience research."
He went on: "It is so sad the Channel 4 boss, Jay Hunt, and producer Carl Hicks -- both former BBC executives -- have again gone down the well worn path of ageism.
"Without any consultation or being asked to change my presentation style I was only told by Channel 4 head of sport Jamie Aitcheson half an hour before their press statement went out." (© Daily Telegraph, London)