History was made at Goodwood on Thursday when Khadijah Mellah, the first rider in Britain to wear a hijab, won the Magnolia Cup aboard the Charlie Fellowes-trained Haverland.
The success means she became the first British Muslim jockey to win a race in the UK.
There was a nervous wait for Mellah and those supporting her as the judge called a photo-finish to determine the outcome. After a lengthy deliberation, the Brixton teenager was called the winner by the narrowest of margins.
Mellah, who had never sat on a racehorse until April of this year, is from Brixton and has been part of Ebony Horse Club for the past seven years. A charity and community riding centre, Ebony Horse Club teaches life skills through riding and horse care in South London.
“That was such an unbelievable experience,” said Mellah. “It’s just mind blowing to think that I was even in the same race as Victoria Pendleton, let alone to beat her and the rest of the women.
“Even in my wildest dreams I never imagined this could happen. I only sat on a racehorse a couple of months ago and I’m never going to forget this day. To be honest, I want to go back and do it all over again – what an incredible feeling.”
Fellowes said: “Khadijah’s just a legend. I’ve never known anyone with so much focus and determination. I’ll be honest, when she came to the yard probably six – eight weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that she would make it.
“Racehorses are such highly strung animals and they are completely different to the horses that she will have ridden at Ebony Horse Club. But with every setback she has just worked hard.
“She’s turned up, put the hard hours in and she has done it. I had a winner here earlier this week but seeing her cross the finishing line in first place is definitely up there with that. I am absolutely thrilled for her.”
The 18-year-old was one of 12 riders to take part in the race which also included Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton, former Apprentice star Luisa Zissman and models Rosie Tapner and Vogue Williams.
The Magnolia Cup raises funds for Wellbeing of Women, a charity dedicated to improving the health of women and babies by funding medical research.