Khadijah Mellah relives her Magnolia Cup win as documentary scoops award

Features | 28th July 2020

Khadijah Mellah relives the day she become the first British Muslim to win a race in the UK. She also hopes that more people from diverse backgrounds will get involved in horse racing.

Khadijah Mellah’s Magnolia Cup win – one year on

Khadijah Mellah recounts her victory in the 2019 Magnolia Cup charity race

This Saturday, 1st August, will mark the anniversary of the accomplishment which 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 was last week announced as the Best British Short Film at the prestigious British Documentary Film Festival.

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 Mellah Magnolia Cup in pictures

Khadijah – An inspiration

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 on changing perceptions

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 Mellah Brixton. Ebony Horse Club

Khadijah on shifting attitudes in horse racing

Khadijah hopes that her story and positive experience within the sport will see a shift in horse racing.

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 Mellah after the Magnolia Cup win

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 on Khadijah Mellah and the documentary

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.”