Former champion jockey's Strictly debut

HE claims he's got two left feet and poor balance - but Suffolk's Richard Dunwoody has pledged to do his best in this series of hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

Laurence Cawley

HE claims he's got two left feet and poor balance - but Suffolk's Richard Dunwoody has pledged to do his best in this series of hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

The former champion jockey - who was brought up in Newmarket - has been partnered with 31-year-old Lilia Kopylova and has endured a “manic” past three weeks of training to get ready for the show.

In fact, the training has been such a major part of his life in the past few weeks, that he has started to have dreams about dancing when he's asleep. Some of those dreams have turned into nightmares from which he has woken in the dead of night.


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His participation in the show comes just weeks after he undertook one of the world's toughest challenges. From his base at Bedford Lodge Hotel in Newmarket, he walked a mile every hour until he had completed 1,000 miles. The feat meant he got no more than one hour and 40 minutes of sleep at a time - over a 42-day period.

Then he went to Mongolia for three weeks and went straight into training for Strictly on his return.

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Speaking to the EADT from London yesterday, the 45-year-old Mr Dunwoody said some of the training he had undergone in the lead-up to Strictly had made him almost as exhausted as the 1,000mile walk challenge.

“It has been very full on,” he said. “It has not been far off the 1,000-mile walk. I've been waking up in the middle of the night thinking about dancing.”

Mr Dunwoody said he was “absolutely not” a good dancer and had been told by his partner Lilia that he had poor balance - despite being a three-time champion jockey.

“Between my two left feet and my lack of balance I'm not sure how it is going to go. I will just be taking it week by week.”

Asked whether there was any dance in particular he was looking forward to, Mr Dunwoody said: “I'm quite looking forward to the Latin because it has some pace.”

He described being invited to take part in the seventh series as a major honour and said: “I've seen bits of it in the past and I've always enjoyed it. It has been a good thing to watch.”

He said his petite 5ft 3in dancing partner Lilya was a “very good girl” who had been “very patient” with him.

As to how far he will get in the show, Mr Dunwoody said he had “no idea” and would be taking each dance as it comes. In tonight's show, Mr Dunwoody only has to walk down the stairs - something he said he was reasonably confident about. “Next week we've got two dances - that will be harder.”

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