Pioneering jockey Khadijah Mellah says she hopes a new riding academy inspired by her historic success will help “change the narrative” in horse racing.
The Riding A Dream Academy, named after a film about her story, aims to help young people from under-represented urban areas pursue a career in racing.
“I’m nothing but proud and excited for the future,” she told BBC Sport.
“This is a catalyst to help diversity and change the narrative.”
In its pilot year, the project will run two programmes for aspiring riders aged 14 to 18.
The Khadijah Mellah Scholarship will see eight talented riders take part in a year-long programme.
Students will spend a week at the British Racing School in Newmarket, followed by 11 weekend sessions with a mentor and work experience at a top trainer’s yard. They will also take part in pony races and study for a horse racing industry qualification.
There will also be a separate residential week, which will act as an introduction to the sport for less experienced riders.
“I am beyond certain there are going to be incredible young people eager to try out racing,” said student Mellah, 20.
“It’s important to offer that opportunity. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
“In my mind, the best case scenario, there’s a group of young people who make it to get their jockey licences. Hopefully one day I will be racing against them, or watching them.”
Applications must be submitted by 14 June, with courses starting in August.
Funded by the Racing Foundation charity, the academy has been developed by ITV racing broadcaster Oli Bell and Great British Racing’s head of public relations, Naomi Lawson.
“I hope people from areas that racing doesn’t reach normally will get involved in this and it provides a legacy to Khadijah’s achievements, when she showed that the impossible can be possible,” said Bell.
The Jockey Club will fund one scholarship place for a rider from St James City Farm in Gloucester, which it supports.
Mellah learned to ride at another inner-city project, the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton.
She won the Magnolia Cup charity race for female riders less than four months after first sitting on a racehorse, finishing ahead of professional event rider Sophie van der Merwe and Olympic cycling champion turned amateur jockey Victoria Pendleton.
“If you come from my background, it can be difficult to imagine yourself in racing,” said Mellah, who was The Times Young Sportswoman of the Year in 2019.
“I hope this will give other young people the confidence that it is a sport that you can get involved in, where you will be supported and can achieve your dreams.”
Ebony general manager Naomi Howgate said: “Having role models that you relate to is so important.
“It’s great the young people at Ebony and other urban equestrian centres who have been inspired by Khadijah will have this opportunity.”