John McCririck has passed away after a battle with illness. He was 79.
His family released a statement confirming the news this morning.
"Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and for many years the face of British horse racing, John McCririck, passed away at a London hospital on Friday, 5 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.
The colourful character lit up TV screens across the 1980s and 1990s with Channel 4 in particular. He was part of the Channel 4 Racing team for 28 years before leaving in 2012 when there was a change of production company.
McCririck was an accomplished journalist, the statement read; "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'.
In the betting ring on Channel 4 coverage, McCririck's passion and horseracing knowledge were clear. His dealing with bookmakers and decyphering markets led to phrases that are now part of horseracing lexicon. Ladbrokes always "knew" according to McCririck, and few held bookmakers to account like him.
He was a regular and vocal critic of bookmaker practice on both Channel 4 and on Attheraces.
RIP John McCririck. This is one of my favourite TV moments of all. https://t.co/oqIRuwYNcU
— John Brewin (@JohnBrewin_) July 5, 2019
Tributes have been pouring in across social media. Undoubtedly some of his opinions will not age well, but as a promoter of horseracing, he was unparalleled.
McCririck brought tic-tac to the masses rather than just the confines of the betting ring. Following his time at Channel 4, he featured on several light entertainment shows. they included Question Time, The Weakest Link, Celebrity Wife Swap and Celebrity Big Brother in 2005 and 2010.
His family's statement ended with: "His flamboyant broadcasting style from the heart of betting ring proved extremely popular with racing fans and beyond."
Judging by the social media reaction, his reach was far beyond just racing.