'She was a ground-breaker. She set the bar' - Peter Niven pays tribute to Mary Reveley

Mary Reveley, who died suddenly on Monday.
Mary Reveley, who died suddenly on Monday.
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Peter Niven has paid tribute to Mary Reveley after the former stalwart of the northern racing scene died suddenly on Monday.

The dual-purpose trainer suffered a suspected heart attack at her family's stables in Saltburn.

Reveley was as adept at handling three-mile chasers as she was five-furlong sprinters, and Niven, who used to ride for Britain's winning-most female trainer when he was a jockey, credited her with having as big an impact on the northern scene as Martin Pipe did in the south.

"She was training them exactly the same as Martin Pipe, but at the time nobody knew it - it was interval training," said Niven.

"Mary never realised it at the time, but she was producing top-class results.

"Of course, Martin was revolutionising racing on a numbers scale, but what Mary did should not be underestimated.

"Her attention to detail was second to none. The horses were always immaculately turned out and she could train anything."

Niven rode over 1,000 National Hunt winners during his career, with a large percentage for Reveley.

Now a trainer based in Malton, he added: "We had some great days together, but Mary took as much joy as winning a seller at Sedgefield than at Cheltenham or Aintree.

"I always tell people the best feeling I ever had off a horse was Cab On Target winning the Mildmay (Novices' Chase) at Aintree (1993).

"He went flat-out for three miles that day and pinged every fence. He got such a high rating after that performance life afterwards was tough for him, but he was very good that day. That's the one that stands out.

"She didn't go racing, she just let the results speak for themselves.

"It's very sad she's died. I'd not had that much contact with her in recent years, but obviously we'll always be linked.

"She was a ground-breaker. She set the bar in the north."

Reveley took out a training licence in 1982 with just four horses but soon emerged as a powerhouse of the northern circuit.

She was the first woman in Britain to saddle 100 winners in a calendar year, having reached the significant milestone in 1991.

In the same year she landed the Cambridgeshire handicap at Newmarket with her favourite horse, Mellottie.

In 1992, she then became the only British female to claim 50 victories in a Flat season.

She twice won the Cesarewitch with Old Red (1995) and Turnpole (1997), while the likes of Marello, Seven Towers and Into The Red also secured big-race victories over jumps for Reveley.

She retired from training in 2004 and passed on the baton to her son, Keith, who announced his own retirement this January.

The National Trainers Federation said in a statement that Reveley "was from that rare seam of trainers whose fundamental horse knowledge enables them to bring out each horse's full potential, whatever its characteristics and aptitudes".

Trainer David Pipe said on Twitter that Reveley was "a tremendous trainer", while former Yorkshire-based jockey Dominic Elsworth said she was "so shrewd and was great at giving young lads a chance".