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The Newmarket society wedding which united two racing dynasties




They may look a dour group but, between them, the faces in this photograph represented the two most powerful families in Newmarket’s racing community at the turn of the 20th century and some of it most successful jockeys.

It may have been taken more than 100 years ago but the names of those featured still rank as some of the greatest in the history of the Turf who between them rode or trained the winners of 38 classics.

The picture, taken on January 27, 1914, is of a wedding group with the bridgegroom, Jack Jarvis, taking centre stage.

The wedding party, from left: Unknown, Walter Earl, Steve Leader, Joe Childs, Basil Jarvis, Henri Jellis, William 'Bill' Jarvis, Jack Jarvis, William Rose Jarvis, Fred Leader, Tom Leader, Colledge Leader, George Archibald and Harvey Leader
The wedding party, from left: Unknown, Walter Earl, Steve Leader, Joe Childs, Basil Jarvis, Henri Jellis, William 'Bill' Jarvis, Jack Jarvis, William Rose Jarvis, Fred Leader, Tom Leader, Colledge Leader, George Archibald and Harvey Leader

The 27-year-old was about to marry his sweetheart, Ethel Leader, and embark on a training career which would see him train the winners of nine classics, and more than half a century later be knighted by the Queen for his service to racing.

From the early years of the 20th century he had been a highly successful apprentice jockey and had been in the saddle when Hacklers Pride landed the 1903 Cambridgeshire and with it a huge gamble of which Jack’s reward was £125. He rode 121 winners on the Flat before weight defeated him and he became assistant trainer to his father at Waterwitch House just off Exeter Road for the next five years.

He and Ethel had been engaged for some time and the trigger for their marriage was the offer of a job as a private trainer based at Warren House, then a large training yard in Old Station Road, formerly occupied by John Dawson, father-in-law of the legendary jockey Fred Archer.

The yard had been leased to a wealthy racehorse owner, who wanted to employ a married man so he and his wife could live in and look after the big house. Needless to say the nuptials were quickly arranged.

Jack’s training career was halted abruptly by the outbreak of the First World War, during which he served as a sergeant in the Tank Corps. On his return from the front he resumed training in 1919 at Park Lodge in Park Lane and soon took over the horses of former prime minister Lord Rosebery, whose famous primrose and rose hooped colours were carried by his first Classic winner Ellangowan in the 2,000 Guineas of 1923.

On the death of old Lord Rosebery in 1929, the title, along with the family’s racing interests, passed to his son and heir, Lord Dalmeny, and it was for him Jack trained Blue Peter to win both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby of 1939. To his dying day his greatest disappointment was that the colt never got the chance to win the Triple Crown as the St Leger was abandoned on the outbreak of the Second World War.

Looking over the shoulder of his youngest son is William ‘Bill’ Jarvis, patriarch of the oldest of Newmarket’s racing families.

In 1892 he sent Bona Vista out to win the 2,000 Guineas and the following year had the frustration of seeing his Ravensbury finish second in the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, and the St Leger, to the great Isinglass and, in 1898, he trained Cyllene to finished runner-up in the Derby to Jeddah.

In 1884 he married trainer’s daughter Leonora Godding. Their first son, William ‘Rose’ Jarvis, pictured on Jack’s right (9), trained at Hackness Villa in Exeter Road before becoming Royal trainer to King George V at Egerton House. He trained three Classic winners and married Isabel, the daughter of jockey and trainer Joseph Butters. Their son, Ryan, was named in memory of William’s cousin who had died aged just 19 in the typhoid epidemic which swept Newmarket in 1895. He went on to train at Phantom House in Newmarket where his son, William, still trains today.

They also had a daughter, Bridget, who later married jockey Bill Rickaby.

On Jack’s left is his other brother, Basil (5), who enjoyed Classic success through 1923 Derby winner Papyrus, and trained for some of the sport’s best known owners, including Sir Victor Sassoon and Marcel Boussac, at Green Lodge Stables, formerly occupied by his uncle Jimmy Ryan. He later trained privately at LaGrange stables for Lord Glanely before finally retiring in 1948.

As well as the Jarvis clan, the photograph features members of another great racing dynasty, the Leaders.

Tom Leader, head of the family, is pictured fourth right (11). He had moved to Newmarket in 1887 to Wroughton House in Old Station Road, possibly the setting for this photograph, which he had re-named after the Wiltshire stable he had previously occupied and where he trained George Frederick to win the 1874 Derby.

Six years after this photograph was taken Leader died aged 73 but four of his sons became trainers.

Harvey, the youngest, on the far right of the frame (14), began training four years after the photograph was taken and was only 27 when he won the St Leger with Caligula in 1920. Five years later he saddled the Grand National winner Jack Horner. With Shalfleet he won 16 races including the Portland Handicap in 1935 and 1936 and re-named the Bedford Lodge stables in the horse’s honour.

On the right of his father is Colledge Leader (12) who, at the time of the wedding, was at Machell Place where the previous year he had won the Cambridgeshire with Cantilever. In 1934 he succeeded George Lambton as private trainer to Lord Derby at Stanley House and two years later won the Oaks and the Ascot Gold Cup with Quashed and the 1,000 Guineas with Tideway. He was only 55 when he was taken seriously ill and died in 1938.

Standing the other side of his father, and named for his Derby winner, is George Frederick Leader (10), who had succeeded the bridegroom at Warren House and later trained at Primrose Cottage Stables.

On June 13, 1933, he recorded his biggest success when Gainslaw won the Gold Vase at the Royal meeting but the celebrations were to be shortlived as just hours later tragedy struck. After enjoying a meal at the Mayfair Hotel in London with his wife Marjorie, the couple were being driven home by his nephew, Geoffrey, when on the Great North Road near Stevenage their car hit a stationary lorry and trailer which had broken down.

Fred and his wife were both thrown out of the car and died instantly. Geoffrey sustained serious injuries but recovered. The couple were survived by their three-year-old son and, such was the family’s popularity, the town turned out in force for their funeral when the Newmarket Journal reported crowds turned out at both St Mary’s Church and the cemetery when there were 240 floral tributes received.

Third from the left of the photograph is Steve Leader (3), who did not train in his own right, but was an integral part of the set up at his brother Harvey’s Shalfleet stable.

Second left is believed to be Walter Earl (2) who, a decade after the wedding, became private trainer to diamond magnate Solly Joel, at Moulton Paddocks. In 1939 he was employed by Lord Derby at Stanley House where he was responsible for six wartime classic winners including the 1942 Derby with Watling Street and the 1943 1,000 Guineas and St Leger with Herringbone.

Fourth from the left is jockey Joe Childs (4), who served his apprenticeship at Phantom House in Newmarket and went to ride the winners of 15 classics including the 1928 1,000 Guineas on Scuttle for William ‘Rose’ Jarvis the only royal classic winner of King George V’s reign and said to be the proudest moment of his life.

San Francisco-born jockey George Archibald, pictured second right (13), had based himself in Newmarket after winning the Kentucky Derby in 1911.

His move to Europe had been hastened when anti-gambling campaigners had suceeded in shutting down racing throughout New York State for two years, leaving him with little option but to pursue his career across the pond.He went on to win the 1922 2,000 Guineas on St Louis for Clarehaven trainer Peter Gilpin, but his riding career was to exact a terrible price. Archibald subjected his body to severe wasting in order to ride at around 7st 13lbs and on April 7, 1927, after riding at Newmarket’s Craven meeting he complained of severe stomach pains. He was taken home where he died early that evening. Such was his popularity that around 1,000 mourners were reported to have attended his funeral at the town’s St Agnes Church. He is buried in Newmarket cemetery.

When he posed for this photograph aged just 24, he could never have imagined that his son, also named George, would one day marry the daughter of another of the young men he posed with that day.

Henri Jellis, pictured six from the left (6), was just 22 at the time, and was the son of a champion jockey in Belgium. He had come to Newmarket as an apprentice to trainer Tom Jennings, and three years earlier had landed his first major success winning the Cambridgeshire on Long Set who carried just 6st 12lbs. He went on to ride the winners of three classics and train another, but it could have all been so different.

In 1907 when Henri was just 15 he nearly lost his life in a local tragedy when a fire broke out at Newmarket Town Hall, now the town’s Wildwood restaurant, which at the time was being used as a cinema.

The hall was overcrowded and the projector, which used incandescent limestone as the illuminating medium, was accidently knocked over, resulting in a fire which caused a panic. Among the 300 injured was young Jellis who was mentioned in both local and national newspaper reports of the incident as being hospitalised with burns to his hands.

In 1937 he began training at Beverley House, which had previously been run by his wife Gladys’ father, Triple Crown winning trainer George Blackwell. In 1938 their daughter, Angela or Rusty as she was known in Newmarket by virtue of her red hair, married George Archibald who was training at Saville House in St Mary’s Square. Rusty’s brother Harry, or Jell as he was known, later became assistant trainer to none other than the bridegroom at his overspill yard at Palace House.

George was to leave Newmarket in the mid 1950s, He went to America, birthplace of his father, and Rusty went with him although leaving Newmarket broke her heart. Her daughter Valerie, who still lives in Virginia where the family originally based themselves, said her mother found solace in the bottle and battled alcoholism finally finding sobriety in 1971.

So the photograph of the bridegroom’s party at the wedding of Jack Jarvis has told its stories. All of those in it have been identified except one, the young man on the far left of the frame (1). Perhaps a Journal reader can help solve the mystery?