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.
Betfair left the winner unchanged at 11-4 for the Arkle at Cheltenham next month.
Mullins said: “It was a good performance, he did what was required. It was a tough race, there was no hiding place there as there was plenty of pace on up front.
“He jumped well throughout, he came under a little bit of pressure turning for home, but once he got running going to the last it was just a matter of jumping the last, I thought.
“He jumped well today and I couldn’t fault what he did, I’m happy enough he did everything right.
“Paul said when he got to the front he just did what he did in Naas, he just idled. Between the wind and the crowd here today you could see him looking around himself. I’m very happy with his performance.”