Who will win Strictly Come Dancing

Who Will Win Strictly? – IntotheBlue investigates

Do you think you know who will win Strictly?

We’ve watched them dance at Blackpool and we’re over half way through and everyone is asking who will win Strictly this year. As expert and highly dedicated Strictly Come Dancing viewers, we’ve decided to put of necks on the line and say…Gemma Atkinson to win!

Why should Gemma win Strictly 2017, we hear you say?

Well, she’s one of the few who hasn’t got a dance training background and you can really see how she’s improved week by week. Regardless of whether the rumours of romance between her and pro dancer Gorka Marquez are true, we think she could be holding the glitter ball trophy aloft.

who will strictly trophy

Who will win Strictly and get to hold aloft the glitter ball trophy?

So when will we find out who will win Strictly this year?

The Strictly Come Dancing final will be on BBC1 on Saturday 16th December 2017. After Tangoing and Waltzing through 12 live shows, the 15 celebrities will be whittled down to the final four for the last show of series 15 to find out who will be crowned the Strictly winner.

And what are the bookies saying about who will win Strictly?

Now we are down to just seven celeb dancers, the bookies’ odds are going with Alexandra Burke to win Strictly, with Debbie McGee second and Gemma Atkinson third. The highest placed male, according to the betting at the moment, is Joe McFadden to finish in fourth.

But who won Strictly in terms of being a fan favourite?

Who could forget Ruth Langsford and Anton du Beke’s Paso Doble that crescendoed with a rather unfortunate fall right at the end of the routine? And then there was Aston ‘I was robbed’ Merrygold’s Cha-Cha-Cha to ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ from the Trolls film. He and pro partner Janette Manrara looked so cute as trolls!

And of course, no-one can deny that Debbie McGee is the most supple lady ‘of a certain age’ ever, doing splits and high kicks galore with her partner Giovanni. There’s hope for us all yet. Apparently it’s gardening, yoga and spoonful of something called Active Silver every day that keeps her fit and healthy.

Blackpool Tower dance off

After the eight celebrities danced at the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom, do you think you know who’ll win Strictly?

And that’s about all for who will win Strictly

Whilst we’re off to the nearest health food shop for some curly kale and anything else Debbie McGee might eat, we’ll leave you with this blatant plug that keeps IntotheBlue’s Big Boss happy when we write blog pieces about who will win Strictly…

Don’t forget if you’ve been inspired by the Strictly stars this season, we’ve got a whole range of dancing lessons that’ll have you Quickstepping and American Smooth-ing as well as a star who will win Strictly. We’ve even got emergency wedding dance lessons if you’re getting married and haven’t got a clue on the choreography for that all important first dance (Ed Sheehan’s ‘Perfect’ being our top tip for 2018 marriage season!).

experience gift guide for christmas

Experience gifts for him, for couples & for Christmas – our guide!

To help you find the best experience gifts for him, for couples and for Christmas gifts, we’ve done all the hard work for you and created a fine hand-picked selection of experiences and activity days out for you.

We’ve even matched the picks to the type of person or situation they’d suit – a bit like choosing the perfect wine to complement a favourite meal! Buy any of these experiences and they won’t disappoint. After all, everyone knows an experience gift is way more fun than a traditional present don’t they?

Let’s start with the boys. Here’s our pick of experience gifts for him:

  • Indoor him
    Show your cosy stay-at-home man he’s your shining light with a Neon Light Workshop. Make a proper Bladerunner-style neon light display that’ll look the business in your own home.
  • Outdoor him
    One man and his dog. For animal-loving outdoor types, a day out on a sheepdog experience learning how to herd sheep will be paradise for him. Watch in awe as they learn the farmer’s whistles that command the Collie. It’s brilliant!
  • Foodie him
    Let’s face it, if you’ve got a bloke who’s more Tikka Masala than Michelin-starred, you might as well forget the tiny portions on a big plate in some fancy restaurant and go for a 241 Curry Card that gives them (and you!) a good old slap up curry night out for less!
  • No fear him
    If he’s tried every extreme sport out there, this one might be the only one left that’ll get the boy sweating. Take a passenger ride in a semi-submersible jet-powered watercraft called the Seabreacher. It’s totally mad and the stuff of sci-fi movies.
Neon light experience gift for him

An experience gift for him that’s going to light up his life – a neon workshop!

Now onto the best of experience gifts for couples, where doing things in twos is better!

  • New couples
    Not been together that long? Literally break the ice with an ice sculpting workshop. It’s sure to melt your heart as you work together chiselling away at that block of ice to create something beautiful.
  • High flying couples
    Head to Elstree Aerodrome (where the stars all fly from!) for a helicopter lesson over London. Whilst one of you is up front flying, the other can ride as a passenger and enjoy the bird’s eye views. No squabbling as to who gets to ride shotgun please!
  • Chillaxing couples
    Take kicking back and relaxing together to a whole new level with a vintage Airstream weekend break on the Isle of Wight. Striped deckchairs and old school board games included. Just bring along your own vino and retract from society for a couple of days!
  • London living couples
    You all know how it goes. You live in the capital but never do anything touristy as a couple. It’s time you and your other half headed up and over the O2 arena then. This is a little bit crazy, as you literally walk over the dome of the arena, but it’s a must-do and you can even combine it with dinner for two as well!
heli experience gift couples

A helicopter experience gift for two – but who will be passenger and who will be upfront flying?

And for when it’s the festive season, we’ve got the best gift experiences for Christmas too:

  • Splash the cash Christmas
    Quite possibly the most quintessentially British experience we offer, an excursion for two onboard the beautiful Belmond British Pullman train is a luxurious gift that is sure to delight. Crack open the Champers as you sit back and enjoy that distinguished on-board service. Various itineraries available.
  • Best deal Xmas
    Half price supercar driving? Yes please! These fancy supercars cost a fortune to buy and run, but for just £49 (down from £99) you can take your favourite one for a spin around an airfield circuit. Great value and everyone loves a supercar!
  • Xmas silliness
    You won’t be the only one to feel stuffed this Christmas if you buy them a taxidermy experience. Yes, this is actually a thing. It’s called anthropomorphic taxidermy and apparently it was a favourite pastime of the Victorians. Just look at the photos!
  • Childhood dreams Xmas
    Nothing beats flying in a Spitfire - fact. Yes it costs a fair bit, but this is the stuff of dreams and is pretty much the ultimate Christmas present for all aviation fans young and and old. Oh how we wish someone would buy one for us!
experience gifts for Christmas taxidermy

Xmas silliness – the great taxidermy experience gift for a Christmas present with a difference!

All suggestions featured in our experience gifts guide are available to buy now online at Intotheblue.co.uk.

become a jockey

How Do You Become a Jockey in the UK?

Cheltenham, Derby, The Grand National, Royal Ascot… The thrilling, heart-stopping world of horse racing is something that we British people love to talk about – and no one can beat us when it comes to choose horse names! But what about the jockeys? Today we will be focusing our attention to the world of these weightless powerful riders and how do you become a jockey in the UK. Hope you’re ready for a fast lap!

how to become a jockey

Daily training is an essential part of the jockey’s life and career.

What is a jockey?

In general terms, when we talk about jockeys we’re referring to those people who are in charge of riding the horses, either for horse racing or steeplechase racing. Most jockeys tend to start quite young, around 16 to 22 years old, as they’re required to have a certain weight and height to be able to ride the horses.

Although a higher number of women are starting to show an interest on the sport, the world of jockeys is mostly formed by men. Out of 450 registered jockeys in the UK, only around 50-60 of them are women.

horse saddle

Getting used to a saddle is the first step to become a jockey!

Do I need any training to become a jockey?

You most definitely do! If you’re looking to become a jockey, you will need to complete a Level 2 Diploma course – also called a pre-apprenticeship- with either the British Racing School or the Northern Racing College. These courses are normally fully residential, meaning, you’ll be staying at their facilities while the duration of the course. The process can be a bit lengthy and tedious (it can take up to one year), due to their popularity and limited spaces.

But it doesn’t end there! After you finished the course and got your diploma, then it’s time to complete “the real apprenticeship” that takes up to 18 months and two weeks of full jockey training afterwards.  Once that’s done, you’ll be able to apply for a license and ride against professional jockeys.

jockey horse racing

Jockeys have to be light but physically fit to handle their horses.

How much does the training cost?

All the tuition and learning materials during your pre-apprenticeship are completely free and most of the times you don’t have to pay for accommodation either (unless you or your parents can afford it!). The great news? Right after you got your diploma you’ll star the real apprenticeship where you’ll be paid around £160 a week until you get your license. That’s more than enough to get a cheeky Nandos from time to time!

Do I need to know how to ride before applying?

Nope, not at all. Some jockey students have never ridden a horse before and that was no problem at all. Both the BRS and the NRC’s pre-apprenticeship course offer between 9 to 14 weeks of training, depending of your level and experience. All you need is to be fit enough to ride a horse!

horse training

How to take care of horses is also part of the training apprenticeship.

What are the physical requirements to become a jockey?

The most important part of being a jockey is to be light, as there are certain weight limits they have to meet to be able to participate in a race. These weight limits can be different, depending on the event. As a rule of thumb, flat jockeys weight around 8 stone while jump jockeys can go a bit higher, up to 9 stone.

In terms of height, there is no rule for how tall jockeys should be. But given that jockeys are so light-weighted, the average height tends to be somewhere in between 4”10 and 5”6 feet.

How old do you have to be?

As we mentioned above, most jockeys tend to join the sport while quite young, normally between 16 and 22, so they have enough time to nurture and develop their skills. Although there is not a maximum age limit, most jockeys tend to retire when they’re around 40-50 years old and move on towards other areas related to the world of horse racing.

become a jockey

But sometimes your horse just doesn’t want to cooperate…

How much does a jockey earn?

Jockeys are mostly all self-employed, meaning they get contracted and paid per race. If you’re a professional jockey you will get paid a riding fee. On average, a jockey in the UK will get paid £165 per jump rides and £120 for flat rides. A number of deductions will be taken from these fees that go to the jockey’s agent, valets, etc.

If we take in account all the rides a jockey, either jump or flat, can participate in a year, it gives us an average salary of £26,000-27,500. They can also receive a percentage amount of prize-money if their horses manage to win a competition.

All in all, the world of horse riding and jockeys is a very thrilling and passionate one and deeply ingrained in British culture. And after all, who doesn’t want to cheer for a jockey competes with Optimus Prime?