Social Discourse – 5th August 2019

It’s a long, hot, incredible summer where women have been right at the forefront. Two remarkable triumphs on the track that will have a huge impact off course are the highlights from a brilliant week at Goodwood which started with rain but brought us some of the most magical moments of the year so far, writes William Kedjanyi


  1. Queen Khadijah

Four months ago, 18-year-old Khadijah Mellah had not even sat on a racehorse. On Thursday she became perhaps the most famous rider in Britain. That is the easy way to sum up what might be one of the stories of the racing year.

Recap: By now, you surely know this, but Mellah won the Magnolia Cup at Glorious Goodwood this week on the Charlie Fellowes trained Haverland.

Who’d she beat? Amongst others, professional event rider Sophie van der Merwe and Victoria Pendleton, the Olympic cycling champion turned jockey. Here’s the winning moment.


Mellah started riding at the Ebony Horse Club, an organization based in Briton that helps young people escape social difficulties by partnering with horses. There’s some background here and it is an amazing project which is worth getting to know.

She learned to ride in a four-month period, but what’s perhaps more remarkable is the sharp learning curve she overcame. She galloped for the first time only last week – essentially having seven days before the race to learn how to ride at speed.

It was a magical moment on and off-track for many, but especially for ITV’s Oli Bell. Bell is a patron of the Ebony Horse Club, and also has been personally involved in this journey. He obviously took delight:


The story has reverberated around the media, and indeed the world. Mellah was making history as the first person in Britain to appear in a competitive race while wearing a hijab, something that was not lost on the mainstream news outlets before the race.


It was also a heartening moment for the social media community.

Oh, and if you haven’t already, read Lee Mottershead on the whole thing. And if you have, read his piece again.

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The Next Phase: ITV have announced that a documentary telling her story will debut on the channel in the autumn. Here’s a sneak peek.

From ITV: “Riding A Dream will show how the 18-year-old student from Peckham in South London went from never having even sat on a racehorse until April this year to riding the winner in the high profile Magnolia Cup at the Qatar Goodwood Festival – her first ever race – barely four months later against well-known figures including Olympian Victoria Pendleton and model Vogue Williams”.


Stat Of The Week:



  1. Dear Deirdre

Japan is one of the world’s great racing nations. More than 21,000 races are run in the country each year, including 26 Group 1’s such as the Japan Cup, Tenno Sho, Queen Elizabeth II Cup and more. The sport is also fantastically well attended: Tokyo racecourse holds and receives over 200,000 fans and Nakayama regularly fills it’s + 170,000 capacity.

So when Deep Impact, arguably the most famous and greatest racecourse the Japanese have produced, died aged 17 because of complications from surgery, it was a bitter blow to a proud racing nation.


The Japanese are also big travellers. They have become a fixture at the Arc, a race they long to win; they are Dubai World Cup regulars, and their fans follow their horses wherever they go. Those trips have included plenty of jaunts to Britain, but sadly without the successes one might have hoped for after Agnes World’s win in the July Cup at Newmarket in 2000.

But, 19 years later, this.


Deidre, a five-year-old mare trained by Mitsuru Hashida, had already been in the UK once – indeed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes start time was changed so that an international audience could watch – but the monsoon which hit Ascot was against her and she couldn’t show her best.

That was not the case at Goodwood, where Oisin Murphy bided his time before finishing strongest of all to collar Mehdaayih and the rest of a high class field. Cue delirious celebrations on course, and across the other side of the planet too.

How did it happen? A big thanks to Jane Chapple-Hyam, who has played an instrumental amount in helping the visitors get to grips with Newmarket’s system.

From The Horse’s Mouth:

“It was a glorious day and everything just fell right for her. Goodwood is very different to Japanese racecourses, which are usually oval-shaped [but] we were sure that she would like this track and it worked out very well. The quicker ground [than at Ascot] was another important factor for her today and it is very special to win a Group One event in Britain. A lot of credit has to go to Oisin Murphy. We did not give him any instructions and just decided to let him ride the horse in the way he felt right.” – Seiko Hashida Yoshimura, daughter of Mitsuru Hashida


“There was no pressure on me and so I rode her as I felt from instinct [and] it paid off. I kept looking at her price, but thinking she had a wonderful chance and to go and win against a decent field was something else. Last year was the first time I’d qualified to go to Japan and I was lucky to have really good connections when I got there. I worked really hard and it’s paid off and a day like this makes it all worthwhile. Until you go to Japan it’s hard to understand their love of horse racing but it’s on a different level.” – Oisin Murphy


  1. Too Darn Hot

Hardly a groundbreaking title, but it’s the truth – he was simply too good in the Sussex Stakes.

This was a victory with many stories: a red hot trainer, who was kicking himself for how the horse’s season had started; a red hot jockey, having the summer of his life; and a horse who now has two Group 1 wins as a three-year-old.

Too Darn Hot has been a regular feature on these pages, but on Wednesday we saw what probably was one of the most important moments of Gosden’s season – many had been so disappointed by his three defeats earlier this season but how important the call to send him to the Jean Prat looks now.

In behind, Circus Maximus ran a fine race to be second, and in doing so he opened a lot of doors – he gets ten furlongs well but is tactically handy enough for mile races. Happy Power ran above his odds to finish third and might have seven furlong events like the Park Stakes on his agenda, whilst I Can Fly Confirmed herself to be a consistent and high class miler, even if she appears to find winning tough.

Lord Glitters was not helped by being last off a slow pace, although the sections suggest he was not doing enough to be considered unlucky. If that was his true running then it can only be considered a blow for the elder generation – long story short, the milers are muddled. Phoenix Of Spain was disappointing considering the relatively easy time he’d had out in front, and he faded as if something was up.

Where next? It could be America for Too Darn Hot, as he qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Mile with this victory and his tactical pace and turn of foot ought to be an asset at Santa Anita’s tight inside turf oval.


  1. Advertisement: A Jockey In Form

What can stop Frankie Dettori? Apart from the Japanese, it seems like the answer is nothing.

Advertise’s third top-level success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville yesterday made it 12 Group 1’s since the end of May for Dettori, who has won eight of the 21 Group Ones in Britain run this year and four more outside the country. Another four, and he’ll match his best ever tally in a single year. It’s only the beginning of August.

In behind: Brando was right back to form with an excellent second and Space Blues ran his race again. Both have plenty of options whilst Spinning Memories travelled much better than a 33/1 shot, building on solid efforts in 7f races earlier this season. The Foret could be a target for him and it certainly will be for One Master, who found this trip too short, whilst Pretty Pollyanna didn’t last but could find easier opportunities.


  1. Best of the GeeGeez


  • Battaash made it three wins in the King George Stakes on Friday – no, not that one – holding off the late charge of the Australian mare Houtzen

  • Khaadem justified 4/1 favouritism in style when landing the Unibet Stewards’ Cup in truly terrific style, giving owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, trainer Charlie Hills and jockey Jim Crowley another big sprint success.

  • Crowley also took the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes in style with Enbihaar, who beat Manuela De Vega by an impressive five lengths.

  • Beat Le Bon completed his hat-trick when winning the £150,000 Unibet Golden Mile, getting the better of Vale of Kent and Escobar.

  • Golden Horde reversed Coventry Stakes form with Threat in the Qatar Richmond Stakes, as the first two pulled clear of the rest.

  • Borice gave Gordon Elliott a third win in the last four runnings of the Galway Plate, as he finished best to beat the badly hampered topweight Black Corton, with Snugsborough Benny third and Peregrine Run fourth.


  • Tony Martin took the Galway Hurdle with Tudor City, who came with a brilliantly timed challenge under Robbie Power to get the better of Due Reward and the well-fancied Band of Outlaws.


  • Saltsonstall came from last to first to land the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap, Galway’s Day 2 feature.

  • Stradivarius won another Goodwood Cup, beating Dee Ex Bee and Cross Counter in another thrilling contest

  • Sir Dancealot successfully defended his crown in the Qatar Lennox Stakes at Goodwood, collaring Hey Gaman in the last furlong.


So, all in all, a quiet week. Ahem!


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