The A-level student from Peckham in South London, with no family background in horses, let alone racing, won The Magnolia Cup, Goodwood's charity race for women riders, showing a cool head and skills beyond her experience. She became the first woman to ride competitively on a British racecourse while wearing the hijab, but it might not be her last, for she subsequently revealed she wants to gain an amateur riders' licence.
Riding quietly in mid-division among the 12 runners, and coping with the speed generated down Goodwood's five-furlongs, downhill straight, Mellah produced the Charlie Fellowes-trained Haverland with a well-timed run to score narrowly from Land Filly, ridden by Alexis Green, and Clewbrious Company, the mount of Rachael Gowland.
Mellah, whose introduction to the Brixton charity Ebony Horse Club, enabled her to begin riding lessons, started riding out with Newmarket-based Fellowes six weeks ago.
She said: "There are no words to describe this - I'm lost for words. I'm still trying to figure out how it all happened, and I'm so grateful to everyone who has come along to support. I'm so happy that Haverland is well - I've been riding him a lot at Charlie's and I love him so much.
[Before the race] I wasn't used to seeing so many people, and there were so many cameras and people looking for information. At the start it was dead silent, and I wanted people [other riders] to start talking. I thought 'Oh my god', would someone smile, please. I didn't really know what I was doing. It was crazy."