Country houses for sale

How a 100-1 bet on the 1898 Derby led to a £2.5m charity windfall in 2017

This beautiful house near Newmarket has just been sold – but it might never have been built if it hadn't been for the most one of the most extraordinary races in Derby history.

Lanwades Hall, near Newmarket, has just been sold, thus writing a new chapter into the fascinating history of this beautiful mansion.

The house was originally built by James Larnach, a racing enthusiast who hit the jackpot when his horse Jeddah won the Derby in 1898 – 119 years ago, and the year after Country Life came into existence.

The horse wasn’t much fancied going into the race. He’d only started racing a few months beforehand and had never ventured beyond Newmarket. Poor results in the Spring meat that he arrived at Epsom as a rank outsider at 100-1.

Larnach had faith, though. He backed his beast with a hefty bet at those huge odds and, astonishingly, Jeddah came home first. He was the first horse ever to win the famous race at triple-figure odds – a feat which only two others have ever matched. “The result was received with solemn silence by the vast crowd,” ran one newspaper report at the time. “Not because Mr Larnach is unpopular, but because they were dumbfounded.”

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Jeddah started poorly, but ended up winning by three-quarters of a length, with red-hot favourite Disraeli (a 2-1 shot) fading badly in the second half of the race. Larnach was no doubt as delighted with the result as the rest of the crowd were dismayed.

The horse’s lucky owner pocketed winnings of £5,450 – and, rather wisely, decided to use it on building a quite beautiful house.

The house wasn’t actually finished until 1907, but is still as grand today as it must have been 110 years ago. There are even royal connections: King Edward VII is said to have stayed there several times when racing was on at the nearby Newmarket course.

Since 1948 it has been the headquarters of the Animal Health Trust, who have used it as their offices and hired it out as a wedding venue. The charity, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, decided to move on.

The mansion was sold by agents Jackson-Stops & Staff, who had it on the market at a guide price of £2.5 million.

We are delighted,” said Anthony Marshall of the Animal Health Trust after a cash injection which will no doubt allow the organisation to carry on its good work for many more years. We’re sure that the horse-loving Larnach would thoroughly approve.