ITV Racing presenter pays tribute to BBC star John Hunt's family with minute silence at Ladies Day

ITV Sport presenter Ed Chamberlin speaks into a green microphone
-Credit: (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin has said that racing commentator John Hunt will be "kept in our thoughts" during the July Festival at Newmarket, following the tragic loss of his wife and two daughters. The family were tragically killed in their home on Ashlyn Close in Bushey, Hertfordshire, leading to a minute's silence being observed on Ladies Day, the festival's opening day at Newmarket Racecourse in Suffolk.

Chamberlin, 50, opened ITV's coverage by saying: "We should be excited about the start of the July festival. But as I'm sure you've seen in the news, leading commentator John Hunt's wife and two daughters were killed yesterday in their own home. We will have four live races for you, with John and his family very much in our thoughts."

Richard Hoiles, another racing commentator and friend of Mr Hunt, paid tribute to his colleague at the start of ITV's programming. He fondly recalled how Mr Hunt would often speak about his wife, Carol, and daughters, Hannah and Louise, and remembered a Christmas gathering many years ago where he proudly showed off pictures of his daughters.

"It's impossible to rationalise such a heinous, pointless and terrible act in modern day society really," he expressed. "I've known John for 30 years. We started out together and during that time he's become one of the most respected and liked members of the press room. Respected because of his fantastic ability, not just in racing, but in other sports such as swimming for the BBC at the Olympics."

"And liked because of his easy-going personality, good sense of humour, his excellent company and, if you spend even a few moments in his company, the odds are that the talk will turn to family. There's plenty of people in the press room I have no idea of their family."

"But we all felt we knew Carol and the girls, possibly far better than we actually did. It has been a folklore that after our annual shindig at Christmas 20-odd years ago we'd all retired to the local pub and out would come John's wallet with pictures of the girls at primary school, who he'd share with random bar staff and anyone else who would care to listen."

Bouquets of flowers underneath a street sign saying Ashlyn Close
Bouquets of flowers underneath a street sign saying Ashlyn Close

He added: "In the helter skelter of modern-day life it's quite easy to lose track of the things that we hold dear, but John never has. I know I hugged my kids tighter last night on leaving for here. Knowing that that simple pleasure has been cruelly snatched away from one of mine, and many in the press room's, greatest friends."

"Words just seem hollow and inadequate in such circumstances and all we can try and do is provide some crumb of comfort by trying to exhibit the warmth and respect in which John and his family is held, as will be shown by the many tributes that will be held up and down the country today."

Meanwhile, commentator Mark Johnson led a tribute and minute's silence for Sky Sports at Doncaster Races as a mark of respect to Hunt and his family. "Those of us who have had the pleasure of working alongside John over the years also know him as the friendliest, jolliest, upbeat friend and colleague," he said.

"With no ego, he is a true gent. But also, he is a devoted family man and John's loss is quite simply beyond words. Now, at this darkest time for John and his family, we ask you to join us in a minute's silence as we show our respect, but also as we send them our love and support."