The Khadijah Mellah scholarship could be a dream come true for riders across Suffolk
Newmarket’s British Racing School is to play a pivotal part in a new initiative to help talented riders from under-represented communities to get into racing.
The Riding A Dream Academy, named after the documentary that followed Khadijah Mellah on her journey to becoming the first British Muslim woman to win a horse race in Britain, is set to welcome its first cohort this summer.
Funded by the Racing Foundation, the academy has been developed by ITV Racing’s Oli Bell and Great British Racing’s head of publicity Naomi Lawson and in its pilot year it will run two programmes – the Khadijah Mellah scholarship, a year-long programme which will take on eight talented riders aged between 14 and 18 from under-represented communities, and a residential week which will act as an introduction to the racing industry for less experienced riders.
Scholarship students will spend a week at the British Racing School to hone their riding skills, followed by 11 monthly weekend sessions when they will be paired with a mentor, have the chance to gain work experience at a top racehorse trainer’s yard, participate in further pony races and gain a 1st4Sport Level 1 qualification in the horseracing industry.
The Jockey Club will also fund a scholarship place for a rider from St James City Farm, in Gloucester, a club it has supported now over a number of years.
Andrew Braithwaite, finance director at the racing school who has been instrumental in the academy’s development, said: “It will provide a really important missing link to help young people from diverse backgrounds get more involved and mean that we are tapping into the full spectrum of talent out there.”
And town trainer Charlie Fellowes, for whom Khadijah had her winning ride on Haverland, added: “Khadijah’s story and success was so powerful and creating a lasting legacy that helps other young people from underrepresented backgrounds get into racing is something that we all see the value in.”