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 Illustration: Sherry Tolputt
Langtry could be viewed as having the moral turpitude of an alley cat. However, she lived in an age when women’s roles were defined by men, so who can blame her for turning the tables on the opposite sex to get what she wanted?
 relationship with a millionaire who was involved in thoroughbred horse racing. As a lover of everything equine since childhood, she and Frederick Gebhard launched a decade-long business partnership with the aim of bringing American horses over to England to race.
Langtry eventually settled in Kentford after meeting a gentleman jockey called George Alexander Baird, when he gave her a betting tip at Newmarket. Sadly, he died young, and when his estate came up for sale, she bought his farmhouse and training facility. Ironically it was called Regal Lodge, a name she retained as a reminder of her past. She ran her 20 horses under the barely-disguised name Mr Jersey as the Jockey Club forbade women owners. Among her wins were the Lewis Handicap, the Cesarewitch, Jockey Club Cup, Goodwood Stakes, Goodwood Cup and Ascot Gold Cup.
the sport of kings thus: ‘When not otherwise engaged, Mrs Langtry spends much of her time at Regal Lodge paying all her attention to her horses. At four o’clock in the morning she will be on the heath watching the morning gallops on the private track connected with the lodge.’
Langtry also displayed altruism when she was pictured in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News loading a cart with Christmas presents for poor children of the parish. The older boys received tools and printing presses, while the girls had model sewing machines. Their younger siblings were given dolls and mothers were gifted blankets.
Having finally obtained a divorce from Edward Langtry in 1897, Langtry became Lady de Bathe two years later. The wedding to Sir Henry de Bathe took place on Jersey.
She continued to act until 1914 and
finally sold Regal Lodge in 1919, spending her final decade in Monaco.
To modern eyes, Langtry could be viewed as having the moral turpitude of an alley cat. However, she lived in an age when women’s roles were defined by men, so who can blame her for turning the tables on the opposite sex to get what she wanted? She has certainly not been forgotten in the worlds of entertainment and the turf. Ava Gardner played her in 1972 film The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and London Weekend Television cast Francesca Annis in the starring role of their 1978 dramatisation of her life, Lillie. A theatre is even named after her on Mr Burns’ estate in The Simpsons. The Lillie Langtry Stakes is also a celebrated flat race staged every summer at Glorious Goodwood. Like the female horses taking part, Langtry was definitely a filly to be reckoned with.
The press described her dedication to
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