Angela Rippon on ‘serious’ reason she’s doing Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing star Angela Rippon has enjoyed a long and varied career, which as newly unearthed pictures show, also included a stint as a jockey.

Back in 1977 the newscaster decided to add another string to her bow and train as a jockey, and less than a fortnight after getting her licence she won her first race.

On May 5, 1977, the day after she hosted that year’s Eurovision Song Contest, she started her training on a horse called Maxi’s Taxi, a steed deemed suitable for an apprentice jockey.

Just 12 days later she stormed to glory in her first race at Goodwood riding a horse called, appropriately enough, Star Performance.

Angela’s race as part of The Blazer Championship, which was a series of match races for amateur women jockeys held in 1977.

READ MORE: Angela Rippon to miss out on ‘ideal’ Strictly Come Dancing pro partner

Each race featured two riders and those who progressed to the next round kept the same horses.

The legendary presenter rode against Olympic Show Jumper Debbie Johnsey in her first round, and easily beat her leading from start to finish and winning by seven lengths.

She was widely tipped to win the overall tournament but was knocked out in the next round at Sandown when she was beaten by Olympic Skier turned race car driver Divina Galica on her horse Aldie.

No further championships were held after the inaugural event and coverage of the series was limited with not much appearing outside of the racing press.

Therefore, little reminder exists of the races outside of photographs such as these ones of Angela in training and celebrating her victory at Goodwood.

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While her jockey training may not be to huge advantage during Strictly 78-year-old Angela was recently forced to hit back at claims that her background gave her an advantage when it came to dancing.

Almost as soon as she was announced as a contestant on this year’s show a classic clip of her dancing on the Morecambe and Wise’s 1976 Christmas special went viral and she was also the host of the original Come Dancing series on BBC One for many years.

“I was 37 for [Morecambe and Wise]! It was a very long time ago,” she pointed out. “I presented Come Dancing, I didn’t dance in Come Dancing.

“So I know what’s required and I did go to ballet class until I was about 17,” she told and other press at the launch event for the show.

“My brain says, ‘oh I can do that’, my body says, ‘what the hell do you think you are doing?!'” she confessed.

Strictly Come Dancing begins this Saturday on BBC One at 6.35pm.

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