Camilla joins first British Muslim woman to win UK horse race at film premiere
The Duchess of Cornwall has joined the first British Muslim woman to win a horse race in the UK on the red carpet for the launch of a film documenting her sporting achievement.
The short documentary, Riding A Dream, follows the story of Khadijah Mellah, 18, from Peckham, south London, who made global headlines this summer by becoming the first hijab-wearing woman to win a horse race in the UK.
It documents the teenager’s journey from the Ebony Horse Club charity to competing against professional riders at the Magnolia Cup during the Glorious Goodwood festival where she made her historic win.
Camilla wore a black blazer and striped dress to meet Mellah at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, where the film was premiered in front of family and friends.
The duchess, who invited the former Sydenham High School student to a reception at Clarence House a few weeks before her victory and personally wrote to her afterwards, told the young rider how proud she was of her.
Speaking before the premiere, the engineering student told PA media that she “never” expected to win the race.
She said: “I never thought I would ever get to this stage in general, I didn’t know I would get into racing, I didn’t know that I would end up getting into the race and winning the race.”
Mellah went on to say she was “grateful” to Ebony Horse Club for the opportunity.
Based in Brixton, the riding charity has managed to provide 1,700 rides to 110 riders per week to young people based across London and has helped children learn new skills and take on responsibility in the racing industry.
“I’m just glad there’s a new story that’s out there especially with the recent news about Isis and what’s going on and the horrible media coverage and representation on Islam at the moment. Justified yes. But also I’m just glad there’s a Muslim role model out there… and it’s a positive story and I’m just glad,” she said.
The duchess became president of the Ebony Horse Club in 2009 when it first launched.
Asked how she feels about Camilla’s support she said: “It is incredible that the royal family are so supportive and so in touch with Ebony and my story and I can’t believe how heartwarming and receptive they’ve been to my involvement in the racing industry and I love they fact they’ve got involved.”
The 25-minute film will be broadcast on Saturday on ITV after the Rugby World Cup.
It was produced by brothers Oli and Philip Bell and directed by Mattia Reiniger and Tommy Bolwell.