Khadijah Mellah is the first hijab-wearing jockey to participate in a competitive horse race in Britain (which she also won).
An inspiration, trailblazer, and history maker, Khadijah Mellah is a remarkable person.
Khadijah’s incredible story began when she picked up a leaflet at a local mosque containing information about the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton. Having admired horses on TV, Khadijah thought she’d visit the club and give horse riding a try.
Within four months of first sitting on a racehorse and despite being the 25-1 outsider, Khadijah won her first race and, in turn, became the first British Muslim female jockey to win a race in the UK.
This accomplishment was even more astonishing because Khadijah had been fasting for Ramadan and studying for her A-levels throughout much of her jockey training.
During the training, Khadijah suffered from several falls and failed an assessment of the British Racing School, only being deemed fit to race for the first time in the days preceding the Magnolia Cup.
This achievement was nothing short of remarkable, and as a result, Khadijah was the recipient of The Sunday Times Young Sportswoman of the Year 2019.
Whilst Khadijah may be a part of a single-digit group of British Muslim jockeys, past and present, she is undoubtedly striving to ensure she is one of many more in years to come. As a result, she has founded The Riding A Dream Academy and the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship program to support talented riders from under-represented communities to get into racing.
Khadijah’s inspirational journey from Ebony Horse Club in Brixton to the winner’s enclosure at Goodwood was the subject of a TV documentary – Riding the Dream. Members of the Royal Family attended the documentary’s premiere.
A true pioneer and a recent mechanical engineering graduate at Brighton University, it is safe to say Khadijah’s journey is only beginning as she continues to fight for greater equality and inclusion in the world of horse racing and further afield. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Khadijah as she pursues her dream of becoming an elite professional jockey.