Glorious Goodwood 2020: Khadijah Mellah relives her historic Magnolia Cup win

A year on from making history by becoming the first British Muslim woman to ride in and win a horserace in the UK, Great British Racing has caught up with Khadijah Mellah to relive that momentous day and her hear her hopes that more people from diverse backgrounds will get involved in horseracing.

This Saturday, 1st August, will mark the anniversary of Khadijah’s victory in the 2019 Magnolia Cup charity race, an accomplishment that was celebrated just three months after first sitting on a racehorse and against competitors including Olympian Victoria Pendleton.

Viewers will have the chance to relive the entire story when the documentary, Riding A Dream is shown again at 12.50pm on ITV this Saturday. The film has been announced as the Best British Short Film at the prestigious British Documentary Film Festival and is awarded to a documentary under 55 minutes and from within Great Britain, which the jury deems to be of outstanding quality.

Looking back on her inspiring achievement which made global headlines, Khadijah, from Peckham, South London said: “Winning the Magnolia Cup at the Qatar Goodwood Festival was a whirlwind experience and something that has changed my life immensely. The fact that the documentary of my story, Riding A Dream, has gone on to win Best British Short Film is totally surreal.”

Khadijah is determined to use her experience to inspire other young people. She said, “At the time, I was looking up to role models to help inspire me and get me through the gruelling training. So it was incredible to then receive messages from young women and girls in particular, saying that I had inspired them to do something out of their comfort zone. It is so important to me to encourage people to be determined and pursue a sport to a higher level despite what other people may think. My hope is that my experiences will encourage more people to get involved in racing.”

Khadijah’s victory made history and changed the perceptions of young women in her community. Speaking on this Khadijah said: “I know for sure that I have broken some perceptions of a young Muslim woman and it is something that I am proud of and will continue to do. Me being Muslim isn’t just it. It is important that people realise that being a certain religion or from a certain background doesn’t determine your interests and the person you are, and it certainly doesn’t determine how good you are. For me it is so important to be able to spread the message that you can be successful despite your background.”

Khadijah hopes that her story and positive experience within the sport will see a shift in horseracing. Speaking on this she said: “When I was younger, I didn’t think that getting into racing would be an option for me or someone of my background. There was no one that looked like me. I hope now that I have joined the racing industry and I have been a success story that young people like me will also see there is an opportunity for them to join that racing community.”

Khadijah’s story was told in a documentary, Riding A Dream, which airs again this Saturday 1st August at 12.50pm on ITV and which has been named Best British Short Film at the prestigious British Documentary Film Festival.

Oli Bell, Producer of the film and ITV Racing presenter said, “The Riding A Dream team are thrilled to receive this prestigious award. It is recognition to a lot of people’s hard work and testament to what an incredible young woman Khadijah is. We were so lucky to be working with Khadijah who dealt with everything that the filming and the preparation for the race threw at her and I am delighted that her story has been recognised in this way.

“On behalf of the film makers, we would like to thank the team at the British Racing School and Charlie Fellowes Racing for all their help and Great British Racing, The Racing Foundation and Goodwood Racecourse for their belief in this project from the start. I hope that Khadijah’s success helps to make the sport a more diverse and inclusive one going forwards.”

The film was directed and filmed by filmmakers Tom Bolwell and Mattia Reiniger and produced by Oli and Phil Bell. It was supported by Great British Racing; Goodwood Racecourse and The Racing Foundation. Khadijah completed much of her training at the British Racing School and was supported by trainer Charlie Fellowes on whose horse, Haverland, she won the 2019 Magnolia Cup.

Following her remarkable achievement in 2019, Khadijah was named The Sunday Times Young Sportswoman of the Year and is now an ambassador for Great British Racing.

Main photo credit: Great British Racing/Riding a Dream


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