Crossing my fingers, I cheered as the horse crossed the finishing line.
I was having the best day at the races.
I’d never been a gambler, but was thrilled to have a belated birthday celebration with my mum, Julie, then 55, my sister Gemma, 31, cousin Emma, 33, and my best friend Sabrina, also 33.
‘Would you like a photo for best dressed?’ a photographer said.
I was having the best day ever.
A new mum of eight-week-old Safiya, it was just so nice to be out.
And to be having a break from my studies too, as I was studying crime scene science.
Safiya, along with my daughters, Aaliya, then nine, and Alyssia and Mya, five, were with their dad, my ex-partner, Ish, 29.
As I sipped my cider, I was delighted to be out at Ladies Day having fun.
But she grabbed hold of my hand and forced the pie into my face
But late in the afternoon the rain poured down.
Crowds of people jostled into our seating area, many the worse for wear after a day of drinking.
As we waited for my brother, Chad, then 23, to collect us, I bought a chicken and mushroom pie and hot chips.
‘There’s some space,’ I said, eyeing up a spot by the toilets.
As I gingerly peeled off the top of the piping hot pie, steam poured out.
Blowing it to cool it down, I noticed a gaggle of six ladies going into the disabled bathroom next to us.
Hearing angry shouts, I glanced up to see a woman falling all over the place yelling at the ladies to come out of the toilets.
As they opened the door, it banged on my shoulder, jolting me.
Holding the door open, I stared at the angry woman who’d shouted at them.
‘What are you looking at, you?’ she bawled as she stumbled drunkenly.
Then she called me a racist name.
‘You should be ashamed of yourself,’ I tutted.
Suddenly, she lunged at me. I flinched, worrying she was going to punch me, and turned my face away from her.
But she grabbed hold of my hand and forced the pie into my face.
Searing pain burned as piping hot pie smeared all over my face and my right ear.
Tugging off my fascinator, I tried to wipe off the boiling hot filling.
‘Ouch,’ I cried as it burned harder. My scalded face felt like it was on fire. It even went up my nostril.
As the woman lunged, she was like a raging bull.
Always calm in panicked situations, I thought on my feet. Pushing the crazed woman into the disabled toilet, I shut the door.
‘The police are on their way,’ a bouncer said.
‘I need to put water on my face, it’s burning,’ I pleaded, feeling like my skin was cooking. But the bouncer wouldn’t let me go until the police arrived.
As Mum wept, a kind bystander whipped off his shirt so I could wipe the pie off my face, while Gemma, Emma and Sabrina supported me.
It was 20 long minutes before the police arrived and escorted me to the first-aid station.
Nurses dressed the burns but I could feel my skin bubbling into horrendous blisters.
When my horrified brother arrived, he drove me to the hospital.
In the burns unit, nurses redressed my wounds and told me to return the following day.
Back home, I finally looked in the mirror, and burst into tears.
The scald spread angrily across my right cheek, nose and right ear. I wept, sure I was scarred for life
Aaliyah saw me and was so upset she had to stay with her grandparents.
I could feel my skin bubbling into horrendous blisters
The next day, the police rang to take my statement.
For weeks, I visited my doctor for dressing changes.
And excruciating pain remained in my ear.
It was the school holidays, but I felt so devastatingly self-conscious I couldn’t take the kids out.
I sank into depression, suffered panic attacks and hid myself away. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, I starting counselling.
I was terrified of crowds and even missed my godson’s christening.
Although I went on to complete the rest of my course, I couldn’t face working in the criminal justice system.
The birth of my beautiful son Soufian, in 2019, helped heal some of, the pain.
Over two years later, in November 2020, Rachel Turner, 37, admitted assault.
She was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours unpaid work. Judge Penny Moreland said Turner had used ‘racially abusive language’ towards me.
The physical wounds took months to heal and, four years on, I can still see discolouration left on my skin.
The mental pain lingers – I’ve just finished having counselling, and still fear being in crowds.
I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and my disastrous day at the races will haunt me all my life.
But I keep moving forward for the sake of my beautiful babies.