From Brixton to Goodwood: inner-city teenager has her sights set on racecourse debut

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  • One young rider from Brixton’s Ebony Horse Club will be donning silks and breeches for the first time in this year’s Magnolia Cup on 1 August, during the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

    Khadijah Mellah is currently combining studying for her A-levels this summer with a gruelling fitness regime, in preparation for her transition from riding club ponies to thoroughbreds on raceday at the West Sussex track.

    The 18-year-old, who hopes to study engineering at university in September, has been a member of the Ebony Horse Club for five years. Having learnt to ride at the London riding school — which offers inner-city children the opportunity to develop and work alongside horses — Khadijah went on to ride out for racehorse trainers Chris Wall in Newmarket and Simon Dow in Epsom. The teenager visited a racecourse for the first time when attending Newmarket’s Craven Meeting in April.

    “I am super-duper excited about riding in the Magnolia Cup,” she said. “It was a great experience riding at Chris and Simon’s yards, and seeing how different racehorses are.

    Khadijah Mellah (middle) with Frankie Dettori and Oli Bell.

    “It was my first time on a racecourse at Newmarket last month so it was good to get my head around what a raceday is like and what it’ll be like on the day. It’s going to be a busy few months with my A-levels as well but I can’t wait to get going.”

    She will be joining 11 other riders at the start line in the famous charity race, including model Vogue Williams and former Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton.

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    A short film, funded by Great British Racing, Goodwood Racecourse and The Racing Foundation, will document Khadijah’s journey from Brixton to Goodwood.

    ITV Racing presenter Oli Bell, who is a patron of Ebony Horse Club, added: “I am incredibly excited about the documentary and its potential to shine a light on Ebony’s brilliant work, plus the ways in which it is opening up opportunities for its members in racing — the sport that I love.

    “It will be an incredible achievement for Khadijah to go from riding at the club to being able to compete on a racehorse at Goodwood — we are all so impressed with her commitment and drive. She is a great personality and a brilliant rider, and we will all be rooting for her in the Magnolia Cup.”

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