The Crazy Bear in Stadhampton, an hour's drive from London, was the perfect setting to celebrate Britain's most successful investment company launch. Garish chandeliers hung between wooden beams as guests jostled for space among the ice buckets filled with magnums of champagne. At the centre of the bar was Neil Woodford, the UK's best-known stockpicker. By his side was Craig Newman, his ambitious business partner and minder. Giddy optimism filled the air. "Things got really out of control — people were absolutely hammered," says one person who was there.

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Neil Woodford, star stockpicker brought down to earth

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The early years

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Culture clash

Moon-shot bets

The break away

Money flows in

The Hargreaves connection

Move to the country

The empire crumbles