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Chomping at the fit! Ruby Walsh's sister Katie faces tough challenges on Ireland's Fittest Family

Most people would run a mile if asked to jump on a horse and try to get over the likes of Beecher's Brook but it's like water off a duck's back for Katie.

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Team spirit: (From left) Killian, Nina, Katie and
Ruby Walsh

Team spirit: (From left) Killian, Nina, Katie and Ruby Walsh

Team spirit: (From left) Killian, Nina, Katie and Ruby Walsh

Jockey Katie Walsh may have come third in the Grand National and faced down the infamous Beecher's Brook - but taking part in the celebrity version of Ireland's Fittest Family gave her a new perspective on tough physical challenges.

TV viewers will get to see the former jockey and her family take on a bunch of other well-known people as they swim through a huge pond and scale scarily high walls.

"I had no problem with the swimming part of it," Katie reflects. "I actually said to the lads beforehand, 'Jeez, the lifejackets are quite heavy, you know if we didn't have lifejackets then we'd fly'. I can tell you now if I hadn't had a life jacket on me, I would have drowned. I needed the lifejacket to keep afloat. But it was great craic, absolutely brilliant."

Most people would run a mile if asked to jump on a horse and try to get over the likes of Beecher's Brook but it's like water off a duck's back for 36-year-old Katie.

"Everything is different," she points out. "I don't know anything else. "Horses are my life. I never had a fear of jumping or anything like that, especially riding something like Seabass.

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Derval O’Rourke and contestants

Derval O’Rourke and contestants

Derval O’Rourke and contestants

"But I suppose if you told me to get into a ring with Katie Taylor, I wouldn't do it. But if you told her to ride in the National, she wouldn't do it either.

"I wouldn't get on the back of a motorbike in a pink fit, they frighten the life out of me. So it's all relative."

The other celebrities taking part are social media star and TV presenter James Kavanagh, RTE Home School Hub presenter and múinteoir John Sharpson and Independent politician Lynn Ruane.

Brother

Katie asked her brother Ruby, sister-in law and jockey Nina Carberry and brother-in-law Killian to join her.

"I wanted one from each of my sibling's families to take part, as they all have kids who watch the show and love it," she points out.

"There are nine grandchildren altogether. I have a little girl, Stevie, who is 15 months old. She's too young to know about Santy and too young to know about Ireland's fittest family, but the rest of my nieces are all kind of nine, six and ten, and they are absolutely mad for it."

She adds: "That kind of gave me the encouragement to do it, because they watch it every Sunday night and I like watch it myself.

"I grew up I suppose watching Blind Date and the Gladiators, so when Ireland's Fittest Family came it took over from that.

"So it's just a show I love watching and I was delighted to get the call."

Each celebrity will get €1,000 to take part, with the winner getting €10,000.

Katie's charity is Laura Lynn, which helps terminally ill children.

"I think I chose them because we all have kids and I just thought it was a great charity and a great cause and hopefully we will never have to call on them," she reveals.

"A lot of families need their support and help and any money that's raised for them is great."

Katie is delighted to have taken part and now knows it's not as easy as it seems.

Respect

"When I actually had to do it myself, I had a whole new respect for every single family that takes part in the show," she smiles.

"Everything looks a lot easy when you're sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a packet of Hobnobs, but when you're actually doing it, it's a lot harder."

She also bonded well with her mentor Davy Fitzgerald.

"He's a great character," she beams. "I admire him as a coach."

Ireland's Fittest Family airs on RTÉ One tomorrow at 6.30pm.

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