Blue Lord held off the late rally of Riviere D'etel to claim the Patrick Ward & Co Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Willie Mullins' seven-year-old arrived unbeaten in two starts over fences, but he did not jump as slick as he had done previously in the early stages as stablemate Saint Sam set a strong early gallop under Rachael Blackmore.
The pace caught out another Mullins runner, Haut En Couleurs, who was an early faller.
By halfway Saint Sam had really strung the field out, but Jack Kennedy was intent on keeping tabs on the leader aboard Gordon Elliott's Riviere D'etel.
The mare took up the running and held an advantage running to the last, with Paul Townend at pains to keep in touch on Blue Lord (5-2) which proved vital as Riviere D'etel made a mistake and lost all momentum.
Blue Lord got away from the fence the quicker but crossed in front of Riviere D'etel, causing Kennedy to switch on his mount and she then began to rally, closing to within half a length. But while the stewards had a look, the placings remained unaltered.
Blue Lord survived the deliberations in the stewards' room to take the Irish Arkle Novice Chase at 5-2 for the Willie Mullins yard #DublinRacingFestival @LeopardstownRC #rteracing pic.twitter.com/x1YtPo5uoZ— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 5, 2022
Danny Mullins excelled as Minella Cocooner started the Dublin Racing Festival with a bang for Willie Mullins in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle.
Sporting a hood for the first time, Minella Cocooner was allowed an easy lead at the head of affairs, with his rider injecting pace into the race at various stages before easing off again.
Although he looked a sitting duck with three furlongs to run, with Davy Russell moving up menacingly on the favourite Hollow Games, Minella Cocooner (11-1) was just waiting in front.
When Mullins pushed the button he took three lengths out of the field and immediately had the rest in trouble and his jockey was once again celebrating Grade One success on a supposed second-string from the stable.
Paul Townend had chosen stablemate Bronn and while he briefly threatened, he eventually faded out of contention.
It was Gordon Elliott's Minella Crooner who stayed on best to take second from his stable companion Hollow Games, but they were two and three-quarter lengths behind the impressive winner, who was cut to 8-1 from 16s for the Albert Bartlett by Coral. Betfair were more impressed in going 6-1 from 20s.
Willie Mullins struck early at this year's #DublinRacingFestival with Minella Cocooner at 11-1 taking the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle under Danny Mullins @LeopardstownRC #rteracing pic.twitter.com/f5RiOCRs3m— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 5, 2022
Mullins also took the second on the card as Vauban paid a handsome compliment to Pied Piper with a smooth success in the Racing TV Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Beaten on his only previous start by Gordon Elliott's Pied Piper, who has subsequently bolted up at Cheltenham, this time Elliott took him on with Fil Dor.
Fil Dor had done nothing wrong over hurdles prior to this Grade One assignment, winning all three starts including a Grade Two over Christmas.
Understandably he was sent off the 6-5 favourite with Willie Mullins' Vauban a 9-4 chance on just his second start.
Vauban's jumping could have been slicker, but when Paul Townend moved him into contention on the turn from home, he made Fil Dor looked decidedly one-paced.
The Rich Ricci-owned Vauban pulled three lengths clear and is now 11-4 second-favourite for the Triumph Hurdle with Betfair behind 5-2 market leader Pied Piper. Fil Dor was pushed out to 6-1.
A jubilant Ricci said: "When I saw what Pied Piper did I was hoping he'd come on and there's more to come, I think. That was very impressive for a four-year-old."
A quick double for Willie Mullins as 9-4 shot Vauban, ridden by Paul Townend, wins the Racing TV '12 Per Month This Weekend Only' Spring Juvenile Hurdle at #DublinRacingFestival @LeopardstownRC #rteracing pic.twitter.com/nbm3A9N0Ys— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 5, 2022