Khadijah Mellah, 18 has become the first person to compete in a UK horse racing event while wearing a hijab, taking home the prized Magnolia Cup on Thursday 1 August 2019. The fairytale winner and sporting novice Khadijah Mellah, an 18-year-old student from Peckham, debuted her racing performance at a women’s only charity event in support of ‘Wellbeing Of Women’ to raise money for women’s reproductive and gynecological health.
Speaking about her jubilant victory, the Muslim jockey expressed her astonishment being the youngest rider in the line-up racing against more experienced jockeys, including former Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, Irish model Vogue Williams and Australian Georgia Connolly.
“I passed the person next to me and I thought, ‘I can’t believe it is happening’,” said an overjoyed Mellah.
Khadijah said that the serendipitous victory was particularly overwhelming as she only began her racing career in April when her mother discovered an advertisement for a horse-riding opportunity at the local mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre.
The teenager who is set to study Mechanical Engineering at university in September said she wanted her triumph to serve as a beacon to others, particularly women of colour to achieve their dreams.
“I’ve had so much support and I can’t wait to see other stories of other women doing the same and getting into the (racing) industry.”
Khadijah now aims to obtain her amateur racing licence to embark on her budding sporting future alongside her academic studies.
David Fleming, the Engagement Manager of Brixton’s Ebony Horse Club, where Khadijah was first taught how to race expressed his encouragement for her accomplishments, stating, “she has (indeed) shown the world what she is capable of.”
“Ambitious women (of all backgrounds) can make it and that is what I want to represent,” said the triumphant Khadijah.