Magnolia Cup set to raise more money for good causes

Racing and equestrianism will come together at the Qatar Goodwood Festival with the aim of raising money for charity in the Magnolia Cup.

The five-and-a-half-furlong contest, for which 2024 applications are open, gives 12 women from a variety of backgrounds the chance to shine at the summer meeting.

The event is sponsored by Markel and in 2022 was run in aid of The Brilliant Breakfast, a British charity that supports disadvantaged young women and for whom the race raised over £300,000.

This year’s race is run in support of the Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, established in 2012 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, with the aim of transforming lives through education.

In recent years the race has also exemplified the increased focus on diversity within the sport, with Khadijah Mellah becoming the first hijab-wearing jockey to win an organised horse race of any kind in this country when successful in 2019.

Mellah learned to ride at Ebony Horse Club, an inner-city riding school in Brixton, and in 2022 the momentum continued when Ashleigh Wicheard was the winning rider and used her moment in the limelight to highlight the Black Lives Matter cause.

Naturally both successes have to led both improvement in and increased discussion around diversity in racing, something that leads Cool Ridings founder Lydia Heywood to believe the sport is blazing a trail for other areas of equestrianism.

Heywood, a British-based event rider who represents Jamaica, created Cool Ridings in 2020 to give support to those not well represented within the world of equestrian sport.

Through the organisation Heywood met Olivia Kennedy, a fellow equestrian who will aim to do Cool Ridings proud when she takes her place in the 2023 Magnolia Cup.

Heywood said of the group: “Cool Ridings launched in 2020 following work I did with city riding schools, I felt there was a missing link when young people discover their passion for horses and want to find a pathway to continue into successful careers.

“I’ve been representing Jamaica in the sport (eventing) since 2017, I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in the industry and now I have a whole host of new friends and a community that really celebrate each other.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction, aligning with governing bodies on training days where we support each other regardless of our level or ability.

“The Magnolia Cup was been a wonderful opportunity to get deserving members into the limelight, Olivia has grabbed the opportunity and made some great connections in the racing world.

“Her position and fitness has come on so much in such a short space of time, I’m so impressed and we’re really looking forward to the race day.”

Riders will this year raise funds for Education Above All – a charity founded by Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser that aims to ensure more underprivileged children receive an education.

The race’s diverse cast this year includes Maryam Al Jaber, state lawyer in Qatar and the first Qatari female trainer of Camels, and Roya Nikkhah, Royal Editor for The Sunday Times, continuing the event’s status as a leader in terms of diversity and inclusion within racing.

Heywood said: “I think the racing world is leading the way when it comes to opportunities for young people and people from all backgrounds.

“Khadijah Mellah is someone who started riding at Ebony Horse Club and the work I’ve done with Ebony Horse Club has inspired me a lot to get Cool Ridings members opportunities.

“I’m sure the members will be grabbing their tickets, getting dressed up and cheering on Olivia.”

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