Three-times champion national hunt jockey Richard Dunwoody is set to conquer the South Pole this weekend.

Richard and team-mate American adventurer Doug Stoup are currently on the Interchange Shackleton South Pole Expedition, an achievement due to make history.

The route has never been completed and has only been attempted once before by Ernest Shackleton and his team in 1914.

It is hoped that the pair will complete their mission on Friday, 18 January, Richard’s 44th birthday, or Saturday, 19 January.

Described by Richard as “the toughest thing I’ve ever done”, the pair have covered more than 900km in temperatures reaching -45C. Trekking for up to 12hr at a time they have crossed crevasse fields and pulled their 17stone sleds up inclines to altitudes the equivalent of climbing Mont Blanc. At night they sleep in tents totally unsupported by any back-up team.

This has taken its toll on their bodies. Since starting the trip both Richard Dunwoody and Doug have lost more than two stone each, expending up to 8,000 calories a day which can not be replaced even with taking in high calorie and dehydrated food every hour.

Richard has been feeling the effects of the altitude and extreme climate — which include coughing up blood — but says he has suffered “nothing too serious”.

Richard had ridden a record of 1,699 winners in Great Britain when he retired from racing in 1999. Always one to take on a challenge, he has since completed a 350mile cross country ski race to the North Pole as well several marathons before embarking on this latest adventure.

Richard Dunwoody’s record-breaking South Pole expedition is in aid of SPARKS (Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids), Racing Welfare and Spinal Research.

For more information visit www.beyondshackleton.com