London teen becomes first jockey to win race wearing hijab

A London teenager has made history by becoming the first person to win a competitive horse race in the UK while wearing a hijab.

18-year-old Khadijah Mellah, from south-east London, was competing in a charity race at Glorious Goodwood where she took first place in the Magnolia Cup aboard 25-1 outsider Haverland.

Peckham-based Mellah, who unbelievably only sat on a racehorse for the first time in April, is also said to be the first woman to even compete in a race wearing the traditional Muslim head covering.

Having learned to ride at the Brixton-based Ebony Horse Club - a charity helping disadvantaged children get into riding - Mellah had been training at Newmarket ahead of her successful debut race.

Speaking afterwards, Mellah was understandably ecstatic about her victory.

"When I passed the post I couldn't believe it,” she said. “And then I saw all my family and friends and started crying.

“I am quite competitive, so I wanted to win this race, but I never expected to.”

Khadijah Mellah winning with her horse 'Haverland' in the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Former champion jockey Frankie Dettori told the BBC: "I watched the race. It's incredible, unbelievable. I met her yesterday and she is such a sweet person."

The Magnolia Cup is the annual ladies-only charity race at the Goodwood Festival, taking place at the start of Ladies Day and featuring no professional jockeys.

Mellah beat out the likes of Olympic cycling gold medalist Victoria Pendleton and Irish model Vogue Williams.

Khadijah Mellah has become the first jockey to win a race wearing a Hijab. (Photo by Mark Kerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

The teenager’s win is also a significant milestone with regard to representation.

With racing a sport traditionally contested by people of a certain class, a race winner from inner London will be seen as something of a ground-breaking achievement.

Mellah, whose story is set to be the subject of an ITV documentary ‘Riding a Dream‘ also shatters stereotypes for women of colour and Muslim women in the sport.

Despite the Muslim Women's Sports Foundation saying the number of female British Muslim jockeys - past and present - is in "single digits", it is hoped Mellah’s story will help inspire more women from diverse backgrounds to get involved in the sport.

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