A young rider from Brixton’s Ebony Horse Club has been confirmed as the 12th and final jockey in this year’s Magnolia Cup race at Goodwood.
Khadijah Mellah, 18, who has been a member of the club for five years, will join model Vogue Williams, Olympian Victoria Pendleton and nine other amateur riders in the female charity race which is the opening contest on Ladies’ Day and will take place before a crowd of around 25,000.
Throughout her training for the race a documentary team will trace Khadijah’s journey from Brixton to one of the world’s most famous racecourses. The film will be jointly funded by Great British Racing, Goodwood Racecourse and The Racing Foundation.
Khadijah is doing her A-Levels this summer and will combine studying with a gruelling fitness regime to prepare her for the transition from the club’s ponies to a thoroughbred racehorse in the race.
Having learnt to ride at Ebony Horse Club she has already ridden out at Chris Wall’s yard in Newmarket and Simon Dow’s stables in Epsom where she will train, and visited a racecourse for the first time when attending Newmarket’s Craven Meeting in April.
She said: “I am super-duper excited about riding in the Magnolia Cup. It was a great experience riding at Chris Wall’s and Simon Dow’s yards and seeing how different racehorses are. It was my first time on a racecourse at Newmarket last month so it was good to get my head around what 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.”
ITV Racing presenter Oli Bell, a patron of Ebony Horse Club, said: “I am incredibly excited about the documentary and its potential to shine a light on Ebony’s brilliant work and 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 and 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.”
Rod Street, chief executive of Great British Racing, which is an official partner of the film and is part funding it, said: “We are very proud and excited to be supporting this brilliant initiative. As a sport we need to be doing so much more to broaden the appeal of racing and we hope that Khadijah’s story will inspire and capture people’s imagination about the power of horses – be they at Ebony or on a racecourse – and prompt more people to consider the sport.”
The film is being produced by Tom Bolwell and Mattia Reiniger, who will document Khadijah’s life in the run up to race day including her riding and training regime, as well as her home life in Brixton.