Last night McCririck spoke of his devastation and accused former BBC executives at Channel 4 of treading the “well-worn path of ageism” after being told of the decision just half an hour before a statement was released to the press.

But Channel 4, eager to attract a new and younger audience to house racing, has appointed former jockey Balding, 41, to head a revamped racing team including experienced broadcaster Nick Luck and reporters Alice Plunkett, Emma Spencer and Rishi Persad.

McCririck’s sidekick Tanya Stevenson will replace her former co-presenter, providing information on betting markets.

Speaking from Las Vegas, McCririck said: “It had always been a dream of mine to report from the racecourse betting jungles of Aintree and Ascot”, referring to Channel 4’s new additions for next year.

“But according to Channel 4 I’m being sacked after audience research.”

Despite the sacking, McCririck praised Balding as a “terrific choice”.

McCririck has been a racing pundit for over 30 years, and despite his popularity with racegoers and betting fans he has proved to be a controversial figure in the past.

He was evicted after 12 days in the 2005 Celebrity Big Brother house after accusations of sexism and misogyny. His appearance on the Channel 4 series Wife Swap led to criticism about how he expected his wife, who he refers to as The Booby, to do everything for him.

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