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 favorite 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.
Mullins said: “We decided there might not be much pace in the race and to just make it.
“Danny was very good on him in front, he got some tremendous jumps from him and got breathers into him after his hurdles and paced it beautifully.
“It was a great result for all the connections. It’s great to win a Grade One here and open the festival, hopefully we can keep going like that.
“It’s a tremendous win for the Bobbetts and for Danny so I’m very pleased.”
He added: “I do not see any need to step him up in a trip. It’s a great day today and we’ll enjoy the day.
“We will not talk about any other festival, we are here at a Grade One festival, the Dublin Racing festival, and it’s as good a festival as there is around.”