CATHERINE THE GREAT.
This year Catherine will be the only woman with a Derby runner, the strongly fancied outsider The Glow Worm, owned by her in partnership with Chris Wright, chairman of Chrysalis Records.
Catherine, based in deepest Gloucestershire with her retired farmer husband, traces her interest in racing back to a childhood in Rhodesia where her father owned racehorses.
In recent years, a succession of classy animals have made the blue and silver silks instantly recognisable to betting shop punters.
Her runners are often plucked from the bargain basement and seemingly ugly ducklings as 10,000 guinea buy Desirable ultimately turned into beautiful swans.
Robert Sangster was prepared to pay a million pounds for that one, while Negligent and Amyas both did well before being sold to Sheikh Mohammed.
Fahd Salman stumped up much more than the original purchase price for Nicer when he did business with Mrs C.
And Catherine's magical run carried on to last year's classics when The Fly, currently being primed for a crack at Royal Ascot's Hardwicke Stakes, ran fifth in The Derby before finishing third in the Leger.
But what is the secret to her success?
"It's perfectly simple," laughed Catherine: "I leave it all to the experts.
"They buy the horses, I pay for them and rarely clap eyes on them until they are in training."
The Glow-Worm is one of four three-year-olds, two with Barry Hills and two with Paul Cole, she shares with Wright. Another, The Sandfly, took the Wood Ditton Stakes at Newmarket's Craven Meeting.
Her Derby hope is the only runner in the classic field with winning form over the unique mile and a half Surrey switchback, and that fact alone must boost his chances.
Trainer Hills rates The Glow-Worm as a better horse than two of his three Derby runners-up, Glacial Storm and Blue Stag.
"He has continued to improve and I'm delighted with him," said Hills, for whom The Glow-Worm is a 30th Derby challenger.
"At Chester he gave Gulland a three-length start but kept going to be beaten a short-head.
"Just why he should be twice the odds of Gulland is hard to understand."
While the trainer seems bullish, Catherine will be taking things in her stride.
"I'll have lunch with my brothers and sisters while my husband will organise a picnic for the rest of the family.
"Derby day is definitely different from any other and to have a runner in the race is a marvellous feeling for ordinary people like us.
"This is a hobby, not a business, but we are full of hope The Glow-Worm runs well."
Given the luck Catherine Corbett enjoys with her horses, he will!
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jun 6, 1998|
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