Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson target Auteuil
Last Updated: 19/05/17 9:46am
Shaneshill will attempt to get his career back on track when he forms part of a Willie Mullins twin assault on the Prix La Barka at Auteuil on Saturday.
The eight-year-old was pulled up in the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and was then well held in the Irish equivalent at Punchestown last month.
Although his recent form figures are less than inspiring, connections are optimistic the Graham Wylie-owned Shaneshill can "bounce back to form" in the two-and-three-quarter-mile Grade Two.
Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins said: "Shaneshill is usually quite a consistent horse but he has been below par on his last two runs.
"Nothing has come to light as to why he has been disappointing, but every horse is fully entitled to a couple of bad days at the office.
"His work at home has been good and coming back in trip a little should not inconvenience him as Auteuil is a big, galloping track.
"He seems to be in good health and I think he can bounce back to form.
"This is being used a prep race for the French Champion Hurdle, which he will go back for if he runs well."
The Closutton handler, who claimed this race 12 months ago with Un De Sceaux, will also saddle Open Eagle.
He missed the bulk of last season, but returned in the spring to post victories at Thurles and at the Punchestown Festival.
Patrick Mullins added: "It was a very good handicap hurdle he won at Punchestown.
"He jumped fantastically, particularly for a horse having his first run in a big-field handicap hurdle.
"The trip should suit him perfectly and he looks to be improving. He was a horse who has a fair level of form to his name from his novice season.
"This will let us know if he can step up to the grade in top open-race company over hurdles or whether we go over fences with him."
L'Ami Serge was really impressive in the Select Hurdle at Sandown last month and travels over from Seven Barrows to represent Nicky Henderson.
The Mullins-trained Meri Devie drops down in class and steps up in trip in the Grade Three Prix Questarabad.
The four-year-old filly missed the Cheltenham Festival with a setback but ran a solid race in defeat at Punchestown, when third behind Bapaume in a Grade One.
Mullins jnr said: "She has not had much racing and only started racing for us just after Christmas.
"She is a mare for the long term. She has got the size and scope for fences and the bigger hurdles in France should suit her.
"It was a cracking run behind Bapaume and I think she will improve again.
"There are not a lot of opportunities to run four-year-olds over two and a half miles in England and Ireland and I don't think this trip will be a problem.
"I think the trip will play to her strengths as she is a big, strong mare."