TRIBUTES have been paid to Mary Reveley after Britain’s winning-most female trainer collapsed and died at her family’s North Yorkshire stables.
The 76-year-old, who saddled more than 2,000 winners, died yesterday just days after becoming a great-grandmother.
Having started training hunter chasers, she had just four horses when she took out a licence at her Saltburn stables in 1982 and quickly excelled under both codes of racing before passing the licence to her son Keith in 2004.
He, too, became a top trainer before saddling his last runners earlier this year so he could spend more time following his son James, France’s reigning champion jockey, whose wife Alexia gave birth to a baby boy, George, last week.
“She was walking around the yard and just collapsed with a suspected heart attack,” Keith Reveley told The Yorkshire Post. “Gillian Boanas is training there now, and John Dawson has his point-to-point horses, and she was really enjoying it. We have young horses of her own.
“She was a very private person but she lived for her horses and that’s all I can say.”
Yorkshire’s Grand National-winning trainer Sue Smith added: “She was very knowledgable about her job and was a very good trainer. I always got on with her very well.”
Reveley’s star performers on the Flat included Cambridgeshire winner Mellottie and Cesarwewitch hero Turnpole while the likes of Cab On Target and Marello represented Groundhill Farm with distinction over obstacles.
The first woman to saddle 100 winners in a calendar year (1991), she made further history the following year when becoming the first female trainer to win 50 races in a Flat season.
Incredibly modest and reserved, she was most content when supervising her horses, who numbered in excess of 100 at the high point of her career, or helping many young riders at the outset of their careers.
“It is simply a waste of time for me to go parading about the racecourse every day or be standing in the bar,” she once said. “Races are won at home and that is where I am most useful to my owners.
“When we have winners, Mrs M Reveley gets all the credit, but this place functions on a nucleus of people who have been here for years. I am basically a very shy person, there’s no more to it than that. This is my home. Dad bought the farm and its 175 acres in the forties for what he described as ‘no more than the price of a tractor’. Except for a year in Malton, which none of us liked, I’ve always been here.”
Last night her grandson James said in tribute: “Nan was my biggest supporter. She was a very wise woman and the most loving grandmother you could wish for. May she rest in peace.”