Larger-than-life horse racing pundit John McCririck has died aged 79.
A statement from his agent said: "Award winning journalist, broadcaster and for many years the face of British horse racing, John McCririck, passed away at a London hospital on Friday 5th July aged 79.
"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.
"John cut his teeth in racing journalism on Formindex, a tipping sheet otherwise known as The Golden Guide. He went on to write for The Sporting Life where he won British Press Awards, ‘Specialist Writer of the Year’ and ‘Campaigning Journalist of the Year’.
"John jointed ITV in 1981 for Shergar’s Derby then became a household name as part of the Channel 4 Racing team when they took over coverage of the sport in 1984. His flamboyant broadcasting style from the heart of betting ring proved extremely popular with racing fans and beyond.
His flamboyant broadcasting style from the heart of betting ring proved extremely popular with racing fans and beyond.
"John continued to work for Channel 4 Racing until 2013 as well as satellite channel At the Races. In this time he transcended the world of racing, appearing on numerous mainstream TV news and light entertainment programmes including Question Time, The Weakest Link, Celebrity Wife Swap and Celebrity Big Brother in 2005 and 2010.
"Despite suffering ill health in recent months, John continued to make several TV and radio appearances.
"He is survived by Jenny, his wife of 48 years. His funeral will be private."
Fans took to Twitter to pay tribute to the broadcaster.
One said: "Life without John McCririck will be far less interesting - he was a magnificent journalist first and a great showman. So often very kind to me and many, many others. Thinking of Jenny today x"
John sparked concern among his fans following an appearance on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side last October.
Racing pundit and Celebrity Big Brother favourite John joined host Rylan Clark-Neal on the Channel 5 spin-off show to give his thoughts on what's been happening inside the Big Brother house.
However, within minutes of the show starting, viewers took to Twitter to express their worry over John's "frail" and "unrecognisable" appearance.
He later said in an interview with The Daily Mail: "I don't expect to be alive this time next year."
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