Grandeur can shake up Mukhadram in York feature

ONLY six runners have been declared for tomorrow’s Sky Bet York Stakes (2.55pm) and Mukhadram is as short as 1/2 with one bookmaker to justify Paul Hanagan’s decision to abandon Ektihaam in the King George at Ascot.

The market leader reappeared this season with a win in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown and was then only just narrowly run down late on by Al Kazeem in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting.

He would have almost certainly finished second to that same opponent last time at Sandown in the Coral-Eclipse had he not suffered bad interference late on and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that he’s the one to beat this afternoon.

However, GRANDEUR would almost certainly have needed his reappearance run at Newmarket last time and I’m expecting him to strip a lot fitter tomorrow. He may not be good enough to beat Mukhadram, even though the last three favourites have all been beaten in this race, but he is a rock-solid each-way bet at around 7/1.

Earlier on the card, David O’Meara saddles nine-year-old SMARTY SOCKS (2.20pm) who will be having his 11th run at York. The course specialist already has four wins and two seconds to his name on the Knavesmire and even a 3lb rise for a fine run here last time may not be enough to stop him.

Meanwhile, I’m putting on the cycling shorts this weekend and joining Mikey Cecil, nephew of legendary Sir Henry Cecil, for the last two stages of Isla’s Tour, an epic 1000 mile fundraising cycle tour around the UK.

After the King George on Saturday, I’ll be travelling to Long Melford near Colchester ahead of Sunday’s 71 mile cycle to London. Then, on Monday, it’s the final 30 mile stage from London to Windsor Racecourse. You can follow my progress on Twitter, or better still, sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/william-esdaile.

Mikey and his wife Anna, who lost their 15-month-old daughter Isla to a rare and aggressive brain tumour known as ETANTR just before Christmas last year, have launched the Isla Cecil Brighter Future Fund to raise money for research into high-risk childhood brain tumours. The fund will help to finance a new research consortium led by Isla's Oncologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Dr Darren Hargrave.

Isla’s Tour started in Cornwall just under two weeks ago and finishes at Windsor Racecourse on Monday with a spectacular night of fundraising. For the chance to bid on some of the amazing auction lots on offer please visit www.islasbrighterfuture.com.

■ Pointers…
SMARTY SOCKS 2.20pm York (tomorrow)
GRANDEUR e/w 2.55pm York (tomorrow)