Former Channel 4 Racing pundit John McCririck is seeking damages of £3 million from the broadcaster for “ageism”, after he was dropped from the presenting team.

McCririck was one of several faces dropped in October, when Channel 4 awarded the production contract to IMG Sports Media, ending a previous agreement with Highflyer.

IMG Sports Media took over on 1 January, with former BBC racing presenter Clare Balding and Racing UK anchor Nick Luck heading up the new team.

Popular Derek Thompson and Alastair Down were also dropped from the new line-up, while John Francome stood down. McCririck’s former sidekick, Tanya Stevenson — whom he often referred to as “the Female” — now provides information on the betting markets on her own.

In a statement, McCririck said he hoped his litigation would “prove to be a watershed”.

He said: “After 29 years with Channel 4 Racing, I have been sacked without any consultation or cogent explanation.

“I am 72. Ageism is illegal. For tens of thousands of employees it has become the feared scourge of our society.”

He is seeking £500,000 for loss of future earnings, “public humiliation, stress and mental anguish.

He continued: “I am seeking a further exemplary, punitive £2.5m, part of which will be donated to charitable organisations helping to prevent negative prejudice in the workplace.”

With his outrageous views, whiskers and eccentric dress sense, McCririck is a controversial figure. Although Racing for Change — which seeks to broaden the sport’s appeal — identified him as the presenter that resonated most with the public, he had been marginalised in Channel 4’s coverage in recent years.

Reaction on Twitter from racing fans had little truc with McCririck’s ageism argument.

“More popular presenters have gone than you McCririck, maybe it’s your opinions that got you the sack. Ageism my arse,” said one.

Another said: “It’s nothing to do with your age John, more that you’re an arrogant, sexist, out-of-touch dinosaur.”