Only four days remain before the start of the Cheltenham Festival – that is, assuming the Government do not step in at the 11th hour and ban the fixture on health grounds.

Sadly, there are no serious Cumbrian contenders but Carlisle could yet emerge as a route to Festival stardom with three recent course winners making the trip to Prestbury Park with every chance of success.

Brewin’upastorm, who beat a strong field of talented novices on his chasing debut at Carlisle last October, has been well supported in the market to land the Racing Post Arkle Chase next Tuesday.

Trained by Ollie Murphy, Brewin’upastorm made the journey north from Warwickshire in the autumn to tackle the Twiston-Davies hotpot Good Boy Bobby and came late on the scene to outpace the favourite with Sue Smith’s subsequent winner Midnight Shadow back in third.

A leading novice hurdler last season, and good enough to have gone close at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, the Murphy star followed his Carlisle win with a fluent victory over the useful Paul Nicholls trained Southfield Stone at Taunton.

His stable are in cracking form and at around 7/1, he looks decent value to hold the Irish challenge.

One has to go further back in time to pinpoint the second Festival winner to have learnt his chase credentials at Carlisle, but this is Kim Bailey’s Vindication, who also scored on his chasing debut at Carlisle the previous autumn before being placed behind Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation at the 2019 Festival.

At Carlisle, Vindication just got the better of Nicky Richards’ highly-regarded Uncle Alastair. All the better for wind surgery last summer,Vindication reappeared last November to demolish a strong field at Ascot.

He is currently the favourite for Tuesday’s Ultima Chase and will be hard to beat. Lostintranslation will be the third Carlisle winner of recent times en route to Cheltenham glory next week but his Gold Cup bid is not scheduled until the Friday.

Results would appear to indicate that a change of fortune for the Greystoke stable over last weekend at Doncaster was both premature and wide of the mark.

On the surface, that would seem to have been the case but in truth the surface was the villain. The rain poured down at Doncaster all Friday turning the ground into a quagmire.

Amberose never travelled and Imada, taken wide by Hughes to find the best going, could never recover from a mistake at the ninth and was sensibly pulled up.

Conditions were sticky and testing for Saturday, with a powerful headwind up the home straight.

Chidswell was taken out of the Grimthorpe early on and as so often happens when results are not going one’s way the Nicky Richards trained Nellie’s Son went down by a nose in the bumper.

Tristan Davidson maintained his remarkable strike rate with new arrivals at his Irthington stable when Diodorius landed the novices hurdle at Wetherby last Monday. Bred in the purple, Diodorius started his racing career with Aidan O’Brien.

Brian Hughes went 19 winners ahead of Richard Johnson in the Champion Jockey title chase with a winner for Donald McCain.

He then increased his advantage with a favourites double for Richards at Newcastle on Tuesday and he will be at Cheltenham next week for what could be a possible northern winner in the shape of the McCain-trained Navajo Pass.

More immediately, Hughes will be at Ayr with a book of fancied rides, kicking off with Marown in the opener. Trained by Richards for Trevor Hemmings, Marown is high on the list of Hughes’ potential winners. He won a competitive bumper before hosing up on his hurdling debut over course and distance in January. He will start at a short price but would appear a banker bet.

The same trainer and jockey combination team up with Top Billing in the 3m handicap hurdle.Top Billing could regain the winning touch under the Champion Jockey-elect, but on last week’s display at Catterick the Barry Murtagh trained Border Victor has to be preferred.

Soft ground will also suit Clan Legend in the class 3 handicap chase. Nick Alexander’s versatile veteran won well at Kelso before being placed in decent handicaps at Haydock and Wetherby. The Alexanders have a good strike rate at Ayr and Clan Legend remains on a winning mark.

Old favourite Tonto’s Spirit runs here and though Dianne Sayer’s front-running chaser might now be a shade high in the weights, mention must be made of Conor O’Farrell, his rider.

O’Farrell, who is based in Carlisle, has been in fine form all winter but he was outstanding on both Flowery and She’s A Supermack over the weekend and his hard work travelling many miles to ride work is finally reaping its deserved rewards.

Finally, the wallet can be filled ready for Cheltenham with a late double from Martin Todhunter’s Ulterior Motive and Greystoke’s Castle Rushen. The former won well at Sedgefield and Castle Rushen looks well capable of carrying his penalty, having landed a tough bumper over course and distance on his debut.