Strictly pro Pasha Kovalev quit because girlfriend Rachel Riley feared show’s curse after he was paired with attractive partners

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STRICTLY pro Pasha Kovalev has quit after eight series to concentrate on his relationship with Countdown host Rachel Riley.

The long-serving star, 39, was heard voicing his frustration last year that Rachel did not support him during the series and hated him being on the show.

WENN

Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev got together a year after they met on the 2013 Strictly[/caption]

The maths whizz felt uncomfortable with Pasha spending so much time with attractive female celebrities, including 2018 partner Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts.

Rachel also felt Russian Pasha — who announced he was quitting on social media yesterday — is underpaid.

A Strictly insider said: “Rachel is adamant Pasha is being paid far less than his hours deserve.

“Strictly has a particularly gruelling schedule and when you weigh that up against his pay packet, she feels it’s not worth it.

WARNING: Use of this image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture

Pasha was partnered with Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts in last year’s show[/caption]

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WARNING: Use of this image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture

Insiders say Rachel was ‘uncomfortable’ with Pasha’s sexy routines with celebs like Ashley Roberts[/caption]

“Pasha isn’t one of the more unionist dancers who push back at producers when they’re working 18 hour days.

“He just sees it as part of the job.”

Rachel, 33, is also quietly concerned about the Strictly curse harming their relationship as that is how she started dating Pasha.

The pair got together a year after they competed on the 2013 series.

Handout

Rachel and Pasha were partnered in 2013’s Strictly, but insist they did not date until a year later[/caption]

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Rachel called time on her 15-month marriage to multi-millionaire James Gilbert, three months into the series.

Last November, she admitted in an interview she disliked watching Pasha compete alongside other women.

Asked about the curse, she said: “It’s left its mark. It just makes me feel nervous — so I make myself busy when it’s on. I leave Pasha to it.”

Pasha, a Latin and ballroom specialist, who won the Glitter Ball once with Caroline Flack in 2014, yesterday said it was time to “find a new challenge.”

Darren Fletcher – The Sun

Rachel split from her husband James Gilbert while she was competing on Strictly in 2013[/caption]

He said: “After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching four finals and lifting the Glitter Ball, it’s time for me to find a new challenge so I’ve decided to make this my final season on Strictly.”

Saluting her former partner, Caroline wrote on Instagram: “So sad to hear the news that Pasha is leaving Strictly. A total gentleman….. You gave me some of the proudest moments of my life.”

It comes a year after dancer Brendan Cole, 42, was axed. He broke protocol by waltzing with Camilla at Buckingham Palace.

Other notable professionals who have left include married couple James, 40, and Ola Jordan, 36, who departed in 2014 and 2015.

Splash News

Apart from ‘Strictly curse’ fears, Rachel is said to have felt that Pasha was underpaid and overworked by Strictly bosses[/caption]

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Russian Kristina Rhianoff, 41, left after eight series following a backstage feud with Ola.

The Strictly curse struck when rugby player Ben Cohen, 40, left his wife Abby for Kristina.

She had already been a victim of it when her 2009 partner boxer Joe Calzaghe, 46, split from his girlfriend and dated her for four years.

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