Union J may have left the X Factor at the weekend, but JJ from the group tells me he hopes it’s the platform they need to be successful.

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I spoke to the singer, from Newmarket, on Friday as they prepared for Saturday and Sunday’s live shows.

There X Factor dream initially ended after losing a sing-off with District 3 during the boot camp rounds but eventual mentor Louis Walsh threw them a lifeline when Rough Copy left the show; inviting JJ, Jaymi Hensley, Josh Cuthbert and new member George Shelley to judges’ houses.

“We’re obviously so grateful for everyone who has got us here and supported us. We have worked so hard to be here, we can’t quite believe were still standing.

“It’s all very surreal going from horse racing to singing... not many people get the opportunity,” said JJ, who rode in more than 260 races and recorded 24 wins.

“Horse racing was what I was born into, but singing has always been my dream, I am just so grateful to be able to stand on stage with my three best mates singing to millions.”

He said the reaction from everyone in Newmarket had been amazing.

“Everyone has been so supportive throughout and I cannot thank them enough, without them I wouldn’t be here so thank you. Thanks so much for everyone who has supported us, without you I wouldn’t be fulfilling my dream.”

He didn’t know why the group had ended up in the bottom two three times.

“No-one knows why they are there; obviously our songs haven’t connected with the public as much as we would have hoped but at the end of the day it’s helped us because it has made us work ten times harder to make the next performance better.”

The group, who came fourth in Sunday’s public vote, will be cheering on Jahmene Douglas and James Arthur in next weekend’s final.

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