The role of a handicapper is to try and adjust merit ratings to level the playing field. It’s not an easy task, but as much as it sees them increase ratings for good performances it also necessitates them having to drop merit ratings when a horse does not perform to the expected level.
That looks to be the case with Bonne Vie who runs in Race 7, a MR 78 Handicap for three-year-old fillies over 1700m, at the Vaal today. The daughter of Lateral won on debut over 1450m on the Vaal Classic track, flying up late to beat Sister Mary by 1.50 lengths.
Trainer Corne Spies clearly felt she was good enough to take on the best juveniles in the country so, despite a shocking No 13 draw, travelled to Greyville to contest the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m on 31 July. Things did not go her way from that draw and the fact that she finished a 5.40-length sixth behind Querari Falcon suggested a decent effort.
She was rested until the end of October and made her comeback in an FM 76 Handicap over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside track where she finished 9.20 lengths behind Ektifaa. She was reported not to be striding out but it did result in her rating coming down three points (1.5kg).
Ektifaa went on to win the Grade 2 Choice Carriers Championship at Kenilworth.
Next time out, Bonne Vie, which means “good life”, raced in an FM 91 Handicap for three-year-old fillies over the same course and distance. This run was very poor as she was never in the hunt and ran last of the 11 runners, 7.40 lengths behind another very highly regarded Mike de Kock runner – Dame Eleanor.
That has resulted in a further 2.5kg drop in her merit rating, which could make the daughter of Lateral competitive again as she can now take on weaker competition. This will be her third run since her return and Spies has also decided to try her in blinkers, which might see her take more interest. Craig Zackey is in devastating form and takes the ride.
The horse she must beat is Tambalang. Sean Tarry’s charge only won her maiden two starts back but followed up with a useful 0.50-length third behind Russian Star in a FM 68 Handicap over 1800m on the Turffontein Inside track. S’manga Khumalo will ride the Go Deputy filly.
Dancing Wall ran a shocker last time but that was her first run on the Highveld and she is expected to improve, especially with Anthony Delpech up.