Racing pundit John McCririck has lost his age discrimination employment tribunal case against Channel 4.

The 73-year-old argued that he was sacked by the broadcaster because of his age.

McCririck said he was dumped from his high-profile role on Channel 4 Racing by "anonymous suits and skirts" as part of a drive to hire younger faces.

But a Central London Employment Tribunal panel ruled against him, McCririck said.

The pundit, famed for his deerstalker, tic-tac gestures and gold jewellery, took his former employer and TV production company IMG Media Limited to the tribunal, alleging his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination.

Both firms denied discrimination in the £3 million case.

McCririck said: "This is an historic setback for all employees in their 30s to their 70s.

"After such a landmark judicial verdict, my failed legal action ensures that anonymous suits and skirts, who control the media, numerous other businesses and the public sector, will now enjoy complete freedom to replace older employees whatever their unimpaired ability and merit.

"I have let them all down along with my wife, the Booby, my legal team, friends, colleagues and countless members of the public who supported me throughout. My grateful thanks and apologies to every one of them.

"Former Labour home secretary David Blunkett MP said in August: 'The way TV executives worship the cult of youth seems to be an unstoppable fetish'. It is now.

"With my legal team we are now out of contact while studying the judgment in detail. It is on the Central London Employment Tribunal website."

During the hearing McCririck claimed sexist remarks and rude behaviour, especially on reality TV shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap, were a "pantomime" role that had been actively encouraged by Channel 4.

But the panel was told by witnesses from the station and IMG that he was dropped because he was "offensive" and "disgusting".

McCririck was ditched when Channel 4 awarded the contract for racing to IMG Media last year, and unveiled a new presenting team headed by Clare Balding.

In closing submissions Thomas Linden QC, counsel for Channel 4, said McCririck had suggested he could switch from one "thoroughly obnoxious" persona to another, more serious one.

But he said it was not the case that bosses could say: "Look John, please be clean-shaven, please wear a grey suit, please don't go for this extravagant manner, please don't portray yourself as slightly mad, please don't be aggressive with the public, please don't call your colleagues by nicknames, please drop your reality television career because it's impinging on your work", and McCririck would have complied.

"As a matter of reality it simply isn't the case," Mr Linden said.

"We see time and time again the possibility of the claimant being a serious character and failing woefully," he added, giving an example of a Sunday Times interview where McCririck had "gone on" about Kate Winslet's breasts and wanting to have sex with Dawn French.

Mr Linden told the tribunal that a survey suggested that McCririck was highly unpopular with viewers. "Even without data, it's a reasonable assumption, isn't it, that the claimant's profile, whether that is in his reality television programmes or in racing broadcasting, was off-putting to many," he said.

"A lot of racing viewers are right-thinking people who find this sort of behaviour obnoxious."

Jennifer Eady QC, representing McCririck, told the panel the 73-year-old had already suffered the humiliation of having his days and hours cut but had carried on working.

"Why? Because Mr McCririck was passionate about this job," she said. "If there was one thing he loved doing it was this and he had done it for 28 years.

"It was hard to draw any conclusion other than this was his life."

She said IMG wanted a "younger, sexier, more glamorous" programme, which had influenced the decision to axe McCririck from its coverage.

"You have got to ask, have the respondents demonstrated that the decision had nothing to do whatsoever with the claimant's age?" she said.

But the employment tribunal panel ruled against the pundit.

In its judgment, the panel said: "All the evidence is that Mr McCririck's pantomime persona, as demonstrated on the celebrity television appearances, and his persona when appearing on Channel 4 Racing, together with his self-described bigoted and male chauvinist views were clearly unpalatable to a wider potential audience.

"The tribunal is satisfied that the respondent had the legitimate aim of attracting a wider audience to horseracing."