A top-class trainer who enjoyed equal success under both codes
Colin Russell assesses an outstanding career
What Mary Reveley achieved was quite astonishing. She did not begin training full-time until she was 41 but when she retired 26 years later she had sent out more than 2,000 winners.
Reveley began with four horses and at her peak had more than 100. She was equally adept at winning races with young Flat horses or veteran jumpers and she never used ten words when one would do. In fact, she wouldn't even use one word if she could get away with it.
What she lacked in communication skills she more than made up with her training skills because she was first and foremost a horse person. She knew them inside out, she bought the majority of them herself, never paying vast sums.
If one cost £30,000 it was considered expensive, but her track record was so good she attracted owners from the length and breadth of the country.
Reveley began with show ponies with son Keith in the saddle, and after proving successful in that sphere she started training a few point-to-pointers. She soon made her mark in a sport in which she remained involved for the rest of her life.
Her first winner was the prolific point winner Hello Louis, who won a hunter chase at Cartmel in the days before she had a full licence.
It was also at that unique Cumbrian track she had her first winner with her first runner as a fully fledged licence holder and I well remember in those early days her manhandling a five-stall horsebox round those narrow lanes with the sides touching the hedges. It was Mary on a mission.
Like most top trainers success did not come overnight, but very soon after she began full-time training it was clear she knew exactly what she was doing.
"She can train"
I remember after a horse who came to her from another yard bolted up at Redcar, hardened professional Alan Amies turning to me and saying: "She can train."
Too right, and as the winners flowed she earned the respect of all in the game.
Jumpers were her first love, and although she was competing against messrs Stephenson, Dickinson, Easterby and FitzGerald in a vintage era of northern jumping she more than held her own.
After one of hers had beaten one of his hotpots I recall the great Arthur Stephenson going up to her and saying: "Eh Mary, where did that one come from?" To which she smiled coyly and said nothing.
In her later days she would rarely venture far to go racing – she would rather be at home with the horses.
Reveley never had a really top-class performer, perhaps her best jumper Cab On Target would have gone further up the ladder had injury not intervened, but she enjoyed plenty of success in many of the best handicap chases.
Her flagship Flat horse was Mellottie, a horse she co-bred, and who after landing three bumpers went on to win the Cambridgeshire and in Listed company.
Nurtured careers of jockeys
Not only was she a fine trainer of horses, she also nurtured the careers of jockeys, in particular her long-standing number one Peter Niven, who joined her as a 7lb claiming amateur and went on to ride 1,000-plus winners.
Graham Lee and Tom Eaves were two others who benefited from their spells with her, while in more recent times it was been her grandson James, whom she regularly used to take showjumping, which proved such a fine grounding for his highly successful career – he is current champion jump jockey in France.
Racing is an evolving sport, and it would be rash to say we will never see the like of her again, but at her zenith Mary Reveley was a phenomenon, regularly sending out trebles, four-timers and even five-timers on the northern circuit.
A fine horsewoman, a great trainer and a masterful placer of her horses. It was a privilege to have known her.