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Dunwoody nearly third of way across Japan in cancer charity trek

Richard Dunwoody (right), who is trekking Japan for charity, with nephew George Pearce
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If it was the Grand National, which he won twice, Richard Dunwoody would be approaching the Melling Road minus horse for the first time on his charity walk from the bottom to the top of Japan.

Dunwoody, 31 years on from his success on West Tip, which he repeated on Miinnehoma in 1994, has made it a third of the way across Japan after five weeks of an epic trek to raise money for cancer charity Sarcoma UK.

That means some 650 miles into the 2,000 from his set-off point of Cape Sata in the south, starting in the cherry blossom season of Japan's spring, to Cape Soya in the north by the time of the Investec Derby in June.

The ex-champion jump jockey-turned-adventurer has undertaken tougher tasks, trekking to the North and South Poles for instance.

His latest expedition, on foot with a 20-kilo backpack as his tented home with a 20-mile agenda every day, is still proving paticularly arduous.

"My daughter Milly gave me the flu just before I started so I wasn't feeling great for the first couple of weeks," he said.

"Japan isn't a flat country! There were days climbing as much as walking, but I'm getting fitter for it," added Dunwoody, who has Osaka in sight after speaking to the Racing Post from Tottori.

George Pearce: has undergone 18 months of chemotherapy and proton therapy

Dunwoody has also been staying at Minishukus and Ryokans, B&B guest houses, and admitted it was some western comforts that helped to keep him going.

"I speak a tiny bit of Japanese to ask directions but not so good for ordering food, as I ended up with sashimi chicken one night, which I wouldn't recommend.

"Today I knew there was a McDonald's at my destination and that drove me on – I'm enjoying the fine things in life and a cold beer!"

He is also having to stay strong in his task, with the friendliness of the Japanese often bringing offers of a lift as he walks alongside main roads.

Dunwoody has kept up with racing news, saying: "I was particularly pleased for Jessie Harrington at Cheltenham, and also Noel [Fehily] with their Grade 1 wins."

He was also joined for a day by Japanese trainer Kobiyama, who spent time in Britain assisting Robert Armstrong and Lester Piggott, and journalist Ariyoshi.

While Dunwoody is making good progress on his walk, the money raised towards his target of £25,000 for Sarcoma UK is lagging behind.

George Pearce, the nephew of Richard Dunwoody and a junior rower for Britain, getting treatment in hospital

Raising awareness of Sarcoma, one of the five main cancers, became Dunwoody's goal after his nephew George Pearce, 21 and a junior rower for Britain, was diagnosed with Sarcoma and has undergone 18 months of chemotherapy and proton therapy.

"I was made aware of Sarcoma UK as a result and wanted to do something positive to help promote the fantastic work and ground-breaking research they do," said Dunwoody.

Anyone wishing to support his efforts can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Japan4SarcomaUK

You can also follow Dunwoody's progress and regular updates on https://sarcoma.org.uk/DunwoodyJapan

There were days climbing as much as walking, but I'm getting fitter for it

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