Horse racing journalist and broadcaster John McCririck has died, aged 79.
McCririck – known as ‘Big Mac’ to many in the racing world – was a familiar face on Channel 4’s coverage of the sport for many years, with his career on television spanning four decades.
The larger-than-life McCririck was also a friend of talkSPORT and frequent quest on the station.
Married to Jenny in 1971, McCririck was an unmissable character with his deerstalker hat, sideburns and cigar, and thrived at the heart of what he called the “betting jungle”.
In 1981, he joined ITV Sport’s horse racing coverage, which then moved to Channel 4, where he would spend more than 25 years at his familiar spot in the betting ring.
He appeared in various other mainstream programmes, including Celebrity Big Brother, before he acrimoniously left Channel 4 Racing in 2012, subsequently losing an age discrimination case made against the station and production company IMG Media Limited.
Watford have suspended one of their players amid allegations he was involved in a 10-man brawl at Royal Ascot.
The Hornets made the decision to suspended academy player Reece Miller upon seeing video footage of the fight, the club confirmed in a statement to The Sun.
“We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness” a Watford spokesperson said. “The club will not tolerate any behaviour which tarnishes its image and a full disciplinary investigation is now in process.
“As soon as the footage was brought to the club’s attention, an immediate decision was taken to suspend the player.
“He will now face an inquiry with all disciplinary options available to the club. There will be no further comment until the investigation is completed.”
Miller, a third-year academy striker, was allegedly part of the fight which broke out at the race meet last Friday as the Queen watched her horses nearby.
A video of the brawl was widely shared online, and Miller is understood to be wearing a pinstripe suit and a flat cap in the footage.
He was also caught on camera posing with The Sun’s coverage of the brawl, with one of the youngster’s friends admitting his disgust at such actions.
“I thought the fact they were posing about it after was pretty disgusting,” said Miller’s friend.
“There were women in the video and Ascot is a family event and I saw one was KO’d.
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“I thought it was disgusting and embarrassing.
“I just thought, ‘imagine if that was my Mum or sister’ and they were all trying to show who was the bigger man. It was a bit embarrassing really. It’s not the first time there’s been violence like this at Ascot.”
Anthony Dan Dyck provided Aidan O’Brien with a record-equalling seventh victory in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
Eighteen years on from his first triumph in the premier Classic with Galileo, the County Tipperary trainer saddled no less than seven of the 13 runners, with the previously unbeaten Sir Dragonet heading the market at 11-4 after being supplemented earlier in the week.
Anthony Van Dyck – a three-time winner as a two-year-old – earned his shot at Derby glory with an impressive comeback victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial three weeks ago and was also prominent in the betting at 13-2, following support in the minutes leading up to the race.
Seamie Heffernan’s mount raced in mid-division for much of the way, and still had more horses ahead of him than behind inside the final quarter-mile.
Sir Dragonet and Madhmoon – trained by the 86-year-old Kevin Prendergast – were disputing the lead racing inside the final furlong, but Anthony Dan Dyck darted up the inside of the pair and galloped on strongly against the far rail.
Madhmoon boxed on for second to deny O’Brien a clean sweep, with another Ballydoyle inmate in Japan flying home to finish third, ahead of his stable companions Broome and Sir Dragonet in fourth and fifth respectively.
O’Brien said: “It’s incredible. I’m so delighted for everyone and privileged to be part of the team.
“The lads (John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith) put so much in and everyone who works in Ballydoyle and Coolmore – all the way along. There’s so many people, from the ground up to the riders, that I’d like to thank.
“I wasn’t sure (if he would win), they were all there with a chance and I knew Kevin’s horse was there (Madhmoon) and I knew he’d be in top shape and he’s a very good horse.
“We were just hoping and so delighted to be involved at that part of the race.”
He added: “Seamus had been placed so many times and has worked for us for so long – he’s such a special fellow. He’s always been a world-class rider and I’m so delighted for him.”
Asked about plans, O’Brien said: “I think the lads will decide, like they always do, but that is what we thought – that the winner would go back to Ireland (for the Irish Derby, at the Curragh). It is a nice progression for the horse.
“We have the track, the facility and the stands there and it is a three-year-old only race – after that they have to go in against the older horses. We will see how he comes out of it and a decision will be made by them.”
Heffernan – who was handed a two-day ban for careless riding – said: “I was following Ryan (Moore, on Sir Dragonet), who I thought was the biggest danger. It was a big ask for Sir Dragonet on his just his third run, but mine had danced every dance.
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“I’ve been around plenty of Derby winners, I rode his father in a trial and won it. It means a lot to win it.
“I’m always confident riding for Aidan. Anything can happen, it doesn’t matter whether they are favourite or a big price – he trains them all for the big day.
“I haven’t had to take a pull going down to the two pole and wait for a run in a long time – I was confident I was going to get plenty of money.”
Liverpool legend John Barnes has explained how he injured himself in bizarre and hilarious circumstances on a team trip to the Grand National at Aintree – and how he escaped the wrath of Kenny Dalglish.
The 2019 Grand National weekend is upon us, and it appears Barnes has some fond memories of the legendary Merseyside race.
But it wasn’t horses he can remember galloping down the final furlong – it was him and fellow Anfield great Alan ‘Jockey’ Hansen!
Some footballers just can’t turn off their competitive edge, which is clear from this story.
It all started when long-legged Hansen insisted he could beat winger Barnes in a foot race and – after enjoying some ‘hospitality’ – where else to prove it than on the final furlong of the Grand National course?
It didn’t all go to plan for Barnes, though, as he explained on Friday’s Sports Breakfast…
“I gave Alan Hansen five yards and he beat me by ten, because unfortunately I pulled my hamstring.
“I missed three games after that!
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“Of course I expected a rollicking from Kenny Dalglish, but Kenny actually showed me a lot of sympathy.
“Kenny had a bet on Jockey winning anyway, so I don’t think he was too bothered about me missing those three games.
“I didn’t know money was on it until Kenny was quite pleased. Having lost me for three games I thought he’d be disappointed, but he wasn’t disappointed at all!
“That’s in the old days, Ally!”
Listen to John Barnes on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above!
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