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

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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