(CNN)The south London district of Brixton isn’t necessarily the sort of place you’d expect to find a horse riding club, but amid concrete streets and towering apartment blocks lies the paddock where Khadijah Mellah first fell in love with the sport.

When the 18-year-old takes to the start line at the Goodwood Festival Thursday, surrounded by an oasis of green in the south of Engand countryside, it will seem a far cry from the venue in which she’s more accustomed to riding horses. Thursday’s Magnolia Cup — the annual ladies-only charity race at “Glorious Goodwood” — will be a momentous occasion for Mellah. On top of marking her competitive racing debut, it will also make her the Cup’s first Muslim rider, as well as the first jockey to wear a hijab at a British racecourse. Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features and videosThe student is the first to admit that she’s something of an anomaly within the horse racing community.Read More”I’ve been looking at the racing history and typically it’s all just middle class white women,” Mellah tells CNN Sport.”It’s a nice change to see someone who isn’t typically racing to be racing. I feel like it could open up doors for people and I like the idea that I’m starting a little movement and surprising people.”Mellah hopes to inspire other Muslim athletes when she competes at Goodwood. Mellah hopes to inspire other Muslim athletes when she competes at Goodwood. Mellah hopes to inspire other Muslim athletes when she competes at Goodwood. ‘Exhausting’ workWhen travel to riding centers outside London proved too expensive, Mellah’s family discovered Brixton’s Ebony Horse Club, a community riding and horse care center intended to give fresh opportunities to young people living in one of London’s most disadvantaged areas. The sight of horses trotting around in the heart of London is an arresting one.Royal Ascot 2019 best photosRoyal Ascot 2019 best photos Photos: Royal Ascot imagesHayley Turner becomes only the second female jockey to ride a winner at Royal Ascot and the first in 32 years after Gay Kelleway.Hayley Turner becomes only the second female jockey to ride a winner at Royal Ascot and the first in 32 years after Gay Kelleway. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDay four – Hayley Turner becomes only the second female jockey to ride a winner at Royal Ascot and the first in 32 years after Gay Kelleway.Hide Caption 1 of 36As is tradition, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leads the royal procession at Royal Ascot.As is tradition, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leads the royal procession at Royal Ascot. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesAs is tradition, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II leads the royal procession at Royal Ascot.Hide Caption 2 of 36Huge crowds once again pack the historic race course in Berkshire, west of London.  Huge crowds once again pack the historic race course in Berkshire, west of London.  Photos: Royal Ascot imagesHuge crowds once again pack the historic race course in Berkshire, west of London. Hide Caption 3 of 36Spectacular hats are very much in vogue at Royal Ascot.Spectacular hats are very much in vogue at Royal Ascot. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesSpectacular hats are very much in vogue at Royal Ascot.Hide Caption 4 of 36And Dettori adds another winner to his fabulous four from day three, including the Ascot Gold Cup. And Dettori adds another winner to his fabulous four from day three, including the Ascot Gold Cup. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesAnd Dettori adds another winner to his fabulous four from day three, including the Ascot Gold Cup. Hide Caption 5 of 36After a wet week, the sun is out at Ascot and racegoers are able to enjoy picnics in the car park.After a wet week, the sun is out at Ascot and racegoers are able to enjoy picnics in the car park. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesAfter a wet week, the sun is out at Ascot and racegoers are able to enjoy picnics in the car park.Hide Caption 6 of 36Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (yellow waistcoat) is head of the Godolphin racing operation and a familiar face at British horse racing tracks. Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (yellow waistcoat) is head of the Godolphin racing operation and a familiar face at British horse racing tracks. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (yellow waistcoat) is head of the Godolphin racing operation and a familiar face at British horse racing tracks. Hide Caption 7 of 36Frankie Dettori riding Advertise leads the field on the run-in in the Commonwealth Cup.Frankie Dettori riding Advertise leads the field on the run-in in the Commonwealth Cup. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesFrankie Dettori riding Advertise leads the field on the run-in in the Commonwealth Cup.Hide Caption 8 of 36Britain's Queen Elizabeth II presents jockey Frankie Dettori with the Gold Cup after his second straight win on Stradivarius.Britain's Queen Elizabeth II presents jockey Frankie Dettori with the Gold Cup after his second straight win on Stradivarius. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDay three – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II presents jockey Frankie Dettori with the Gold Cup after his second straight win on Stradivarius.Hide Caption 9 of 36The win marks Dettori's fourth straight victory of the day and a seventh Gold Cup in all.The win marks Dettori's fourth straight victory of the day and a seventh Gold Cup in all. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesThe win marks Dettori’s fourth straight victory of the day and a seventh Gold Cup in all.Hide Caption 10 of 36The huge crowd is gripped to the action as the Gold Cup unfolded. The huge crowd is gripped to the action as the Gold Cup unfolded. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesThe huge crowd is gripped to the action as the Gold Cup unfolded. Hide Caption 11 of 36Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot is when the extra special outfits are on display.Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot is when the extra special outfits are on display. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesLadies’ Day at Royal Ascot is when the extra special outfits are on display.Hide Caption 12 of 36Frankie Dettori (yellow cap) and Stradivarius hold off Dee Ex Bee and Master of Reality to clinch a famous win on  Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.Frankie Dettori (yellow cap) and Stradivarius hold off Dee Ex Bee and Master of Reality to clinch a famous win on  Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDay three – Frankie Dettori (yellow cap) and Stradivarius hold off Dee Ex Bee and Master of Reality to clinch a famous win on Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot.Hide Caption 13 of 36Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives in the Royal Enclosure ahead of Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives in the Royal Enclosure ahead of Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II arrives in the Royal Enclosure ahead of Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot.Hide Caption 14 of 36Premier League footballers Peter Crouch (right) and Glen Johnson with their wives on Ladies' Day.Premier League footballers Peter Crouch (right) and Glen Johnson with their wives on Ladies' Day. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesPremier League footballers Peter Crouch (right) and Glen Johnson with their wives on Ladies’ Day.Hide Caption 15 of 36The Royal Procession makes its way down the Straight Mile at Royal Ascot ahead of racing.The Royal Procession makes its way down the Straight Mile at Royal Ascot ahead of racing. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDay two: – The Royal Procession makes its way down the Straight Mile at Royal Ascot ahead of racing.Hide Caption 16 of 36Britain's Queen Elizabeth II riding in the leading carriage during the Royal Procession to open Royal Ascot 2019. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II riding in the leading carriage during the Royal Procession to open Royal Ascot 2019. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDay one: – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II riding in the leading carriage during the Royal Procession to open Royal Ascot 2019. Hide Caption 17 of 36Taiwanese model, actress and singer Lin Chi-ling is one of a host of celebrities at Royal Ascot Wednesday.Taiwanese model, actress and singer Lin Chi-ling is one of a host of celebrities at Royal Ascot Wednesday. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesTaiwanese model, actress and singer Lin Chi-ling is one of a host of celebrities at Royal Ascot Wednesday.Hide Caption 18 of 36Veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori treats the crowd to his trademark flying dismount after clinching his 61st winner at Royal Ascot in the opener.Veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori treats the crowd to his trademark flying dismount after clinching his 61st winner at Royal Ascot in the opener. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesVeteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori treats the crowd to his trademark flying dismount after clinching his 61st winner at Royal Ascot in the opener.Hide Caption 19 of 36The heavens opened later Wednesday as Frankie Dettori rode Crystal Ocean (right) to victory in the showpiece Prince Of Wales's Stakes.The heavens opened later Wednesday as Frankie Dettori rode Crystal Ocean (right) to victory in the showpiece Prince Of Wales's Stakes. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesThe heavens opened later Wednesday as Frankie Dettori rode Crystal Ocean (right) to victory in the showpiece Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.Hide Caption 20 of 36Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William enjoy the occasion despite the rain. Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William enjoy the occasion despite the rain. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesBritain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William enjoy the occasion despite the rain. Hide Caption 21 of 36Queen Maxima is full of smiles as she waved to racegoers.Queen Maxima is full of smiles as she waved to racegoers. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesQueen Maxima is full of smiles as she waved to racegoers.Hide Caption 22 of 36Royal Ascot is a highlight of the British sporting and cultural calendar. Royal Ascot is a highlight of the British sporting and cultural calendar. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesRoyal Ascot is a highlight of the British sporting and cultural calendar. Hide Caption 23 of 36The event features five days of world-class horse racing and high fashion. The event features five days of world-class horse racing and high fashion. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesThe event features five days of world-class horse racing and high fashion. Hide Caption 24 of 36Racegoers are encouraged to express themselves within the confines of a strict dress code. Racegoers are encouraged to express themselves within the confines of a strict dress code. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesRacegoers are encouraged to express themselves within the confines of a strict dress code. Hide Caption 25 of 36New Zealand model Georgia Fowler is among a host of celebrities in attendance on day one. New Zealand model Georgia Fowler is among a host of celebrities in attendance on day one. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesNew Zealand model Georgia Fowler is among a host of celebrities in attendance on day one. Hide Caption 26 of 36Hats are an essential Royal Ascot accessory. Hats are an essential Royal Ascot accessory. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesHats are an essential Royal Ascot accessory. Hide Caption 27 of 36Light rain Tuesday couldn't dampen spirits at Royal Ascot in Berkshire, west of London.   Light rain Tuesday couldn't dampen spirits at Royal Ascot in Berkshire, west of London.   Photos: Royal Ascot imagesLight rain Tuesday couldn’t dampen spirits at Royal Ascot in Berkshire, west of London. Hide Caption 28 of 36Upmarket picnics in the car park are a Royal Ascot tradition for some. Upmarket picnics in the car park are a Royal Ascot tradition for some. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesUpmarket picnics in the car park are a Royal Ascot tradition for some. Hide Caption 29 of 36Daniel Tudhope rode Lord Glitters (grey) to victory in the opening Queen Anne Stakes on day one.Daniel Tudhope rode Lord Glitters (grey) to victory in the opening Queen Anne Stakes on day one. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesDaniel Tudhope rode Lord Glitters (grey) to victory in the opening Queen Anne Stakes on day one.Hide Caption 30 of 36Ryan Moore rode Circus Maximus (second left, white cap) to victory in the showpiece St James's Palace Stakes ahead of the third-placed Frankie Dettori-trained favorite Too Darn Hot (in pink, center).Ryan Moore rode Circus Maximus (second left, white cap) to victory in the showpiece St James's Palace Stakes ahead of the third-placed Frankie Dettori-trained favorite Too Darn Hot (in pink, center). Photos: Royal Ascot imagesRyan Moore rode Circus Maximus (second left, white cap) to victory in the showpiece St James’s Palace Stakes ahead of the third-placed Frankie Dettori-trained favorite Too Darn Hot (in pink, center).Hide Caption 31 of 36The Royal Enclosure is the high-society place to be seen at Ascot. The Royal Enclosure is the high-society place to be seen at Ascot. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesThe Royal Enclosure is the high-society place to be seen at Ascot. Hide Caption 32 of 36James Doyle rode Blue Point (blue) to win the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes.James Doyle rode Blue Point (blue) to win the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesJames Doyle rode Blue Point (blue) to win the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes.Hide Caption 33 of 36Punters can bet on the color of the Queen's hat every day.Punters can bet on the color of the Queen's hat every day. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesPunters can bet on the color of the Queen’s hat every day.Hide Caption 34 of 36Attendees dress up for the occasion. Attendees dress up for the occasion. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesAttendees dress up for the occasion. Hide Caption 35 of 36Members of the band 'The Tootsie Rollers' pose ahead of day on at Royal AScot.Members of the band 'The Tootsie Rollers' pose ahead of day on at Royal AScot. Photos: Royal Ascot imagesMembers of the band ‘The Tootsie Rollers’ pose ahead of day on at Royal AScot.Hide Caption 36 of 3601 Hayley Turner Royal Ascot RESTRICTEDRoyal Ascot day four QueenRoyal Ascot day four royal procession Royal Ascot day four teaseRoyal Ascot day four Frankie Dettori Advertise Royal Ascot day four picnicRoyal Ascot  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al MaktoumRoyal Ascot day four Advertise Queen Frankie Dettori Royal ascot gold cupFrankie Dettori Royal Ascot gold cup sevenRoyal AScot crowd Gold Cup dayRoyal Ascot ladies day ladiesRoyal AScot Frankie Dettori Gold Cup day three winRoyal Ascot day three Queen parade ringRoyal Ascot ladies day CrouchRoyal Ascot Royal Procession Wednesday 201902 queen elizabeth ascot 0618 RESTRICTEDLin Chi-ling Royal Ascot 2019Frankie Dettori Royal Ascot Raffle Prize flying dismount 2019Royal Ascot 2019 Frankie Dettori Crystal Ocean Prince of Wales's Royal Ascot Prince William Kate umbrella Royal Ascot Queen Maxima procession Royal Ascot Quen procession royal encosureRoyal Ascot 2019 lime hatRoyal Ascot 2019 racegoer hat winkRoyal Ascot 2019 Georgia Fowler model hatRoyal Ascot 2019 horse hatRoyal Ascot 2019 hats umbrellasRoyal Ascot 2019 racegoers picnicRoyal Ascot Lord Glitters Queen Anne Stakes Royal Ascot Circus Maximus St James Palace Stakes day oneRoyal Ascot royal enclosure insideRoyal Ascot Blue Point Kings Stand StakesRoyal Ascot 2019 punters Queens hatRoyal Ascot 2019 racegoers pose horse statueRoyal Ascot 2019 banbd tootsie rollers“Day in, day out people are passing by saying, ‘Oh my God, is that a horse? Is that a riding center?'” says Mellah. “It’s such a privilege to be involved in such a niche club, there aren’t many like it.”For the past few weeks she has been living and riding at Newmarket Racecourse in Suffolk, England preparation for the Magnolia Cup. Training has been arduous, not least because Mellah has had to learn to ride a thoroughbred racehorse from scratch. Then there’s also been her schoolwork (she sat exams in physics, math and design and tech in the hope of achieving the grades to study engineering at university), her other interests (she had to give up boxing), her part time job as a children’s party supervisor and that she undertook much of her grueling training regime while fasting for Ramadan. “I’m quite exhausted,” Mellah admits.READ: Female jockey lands historic win at Royal AscotREAD: Royal Ascot: A day in the life How to be a jockey at the Magnolia CupHow to be a jockey at the Magnolia CupHow to be a jockey at the Magnolia CupJUST WATCHEDHow to be a jockey at the Magnolia CupReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

How to be a jockey at the Magnolia Cup 01:48Inspiring othersAs for the riding, she says it took time to adapt to the new discipline, but after a few hiccups and falls soon began to hit her stride. “The first time I sat on a racehorse was a couple of months ago,” she continues. “Racehorses and thoroughbreds are just a different breed and it took me a while to understand them.”Obviously if you don’t understand something, you tend to fear what you don’t understand … there was a certain element of panic and fear, but thankfully I’ve got over that stage.”Although none of the Magnolia Cup competitors are professional jockeys, they will be competing in a festival cluttered with famous names and big-money races, notably the $1.25 million Qatar Sussex Stakes. READ: London’s boutique horse sale in Prince William’s back yardREAD: Meet the trainer to royals, rulers and billionairesRacegoers take in the drama of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, commonly known as "Glorious Goodwood." Racegoers take in the drama of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, commonly known as "Glorious Goodwood." Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedRacegoers take in the drama of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, commonly known as “Glorious Goodwood.” Hide Caption 1 of 8It's one of the highlights of the flat racing season, with 35 races taking place over five days for a total purse of $6.5 million.It's one of the highlights of the flat racing season, with 35 races taking place over five days for a total purse of $6.5 million. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedIt’s one of the highlights of the flat racing season, with 35 races taking place over five days for a total purse of $6.5 million.Hide Caption 2 of 8Dating back to 1802, the event is a favorite with punters and boasts spectacular views across the south England countryside. Dating back to 1802, the event is a favorite with punters and boasts spectacular views across the south England countryside. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedDating back to 1802, the event is a favorite with punters and boasts spectacular views across the south England countryside. Hide Caption 3 of 8The highlight of the racing at Goodwood is the $1.3 million Qatar Sussex Stakes, which last year was won by Lightning Spear. The highlight of the racing at Goodwood is the $1.3 million Qatar Sussex Stakes, which last year was won by Lightning Spear. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedThe highlight of the racing at Goodwood is the $1.3 million Qatar Sussex Stakes, which last year was won by Lightning Spear. Hide Caption 4 of 8Legendary racehorse Frankel made history in 2012 by becoming the first horse to win the Sussex Stakes twice having also triumphed the previous year. Legendary racehorse Frankel made history in 2012 by becoming the first horse to win the Sussex Stakes twice having also triumphed the previous year. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedLegendary racehorse Frankel made history in 2012 by becoming the first horse to win the Sussex Stakes twice having also triumphed the previous year. Hide Caption 5 of 8Jockey Frankie Dettori has enjoyed plenty of success in the Sussex Stakes with wins in 1991, 1999, 2001 and 2007. Jockey Frankie Dettori has enjoyed plenty of success in the Sussex Stakes with wins in 1991, 1999, 2001 and 2007. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedJockey Frankie Dettori has enjoyed plenty of success in the Sussex Stakes with wins in 1991, 1999, 2001 and 2007. Hide Caption 6 of 8The event is often seen as the end of the British social season, which also includes tennis at Wimbledon, rowing at the Henley Regatta and racing at Royal Ascot. The event is often seen as the end of the British social season, which also includes tennis at Wimbledon, rowing at the Henley Regatta and racing at Royal Ascot. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedThe event is often seen as the end of the British social season, which also includes tennis at Wimbledon, rowing at the Henley Regatta and racing at Royal Ascot. Hide Caption 7 of 8Goodwood has its own distinctive style known as "The Goodwood Look." The dress code is more relaxed compared to other of Britain's racing events. Goodwood has its own distinctive style known as "The Goodwood Look." The dress code is more relaxed compared to other of Britain's racing events. Photos: Why "Glorious Goodwood" is so lovedGoodwood has its own distinctive style known as “The Goodwood Look.” The dress code is more relaxed compared to other of Britain’s racing events. Hide Caption 8 of 8goodwood racecourse crowdgoodwood racecourse general goodwood racecourse general viewlightning spear qatar sussex stakesgoodwood racecourse frankelgoodwood racecourse dettori goodwood racecourse dressgoodwood racecourse hat Mellah will line up alongside 11 other riders at Goodwood including former track cyclist and double Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton and Irish model Vogue Williams. In spite of the celebrity lineup, it’s Mellah who has achieved the lion share of media attention in the buildup to the race, which has also included filming for a documentary about her journey. Not that any of that is phasing the teen, who admitted to feeling “pretty chilled” a couple of weeks out from the event, the outcome of which she hopes will inspire onlookers — be it on a horse or in another walk of life. “There’s no reason why anyone can’t become good at a sport,” says Mellah. “As long as you put the hard work and the effort in, there’s no real reason why you can’t be good at what you want to do.”

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