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Death of Gaye Chance's owner Mary Elizabeth Curtis aged 97

Cheltenham was a successful hunting ground for Mary Elizabeth Curtis
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Mary Elizabeth Curtis, who owned Gaye Chance – a leading hurdler and chaser of the early 1980s, has died aged 97.

A lifelong racing supporter, she and her late husband were close friends of Fred and Mercy Rimell, who trained with huge success in the 1970s and 1980s.

Gaye Chance was a dual Cheltenham Festival winner with victories in the 1981 Sun Alliance (now Ballymore) Novices' Hurdle and three years later the Stayers' Hurdle.

The brother to subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Gaye Brief also won the Royal Doulton (now Swinton) Hurdle for Fred Rimell, and, after his death, Mercy Rimell won not only the Stayers' Hurdle with him but also the 1982 Haydock Champion Hurdle Trial. Gaye Chance was also placed twice in the Hennessy when second to Brown Chamberlin in 1983 and third to Burrough Hill Lad a year later.

More recently Curtis, who was a farmer's daughter from Beeford, Driffield in East Yorkshire and built with her husband the National Pig Development Company – a successful international pig breeding business – continued to enjoy success with Mick Easterby. Dee Pee Tee Cee was notable among their horses, winning 13 races.

Easterby said on Monday: "She was a wonderful lady, gracious and priceless and always with a good word to say about everyone."

Curtis was widowed in 2008 and leaves two sons, David and Stephen, and a daughter, Susan.

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She was a wonderful lady, gracious and priceless and always with a good word to say about everyone
E.W. Terms
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