TIM EASTERBY believes Golden Apollo could be a future Ayr Gold Cup contender after he relished the strong pace to win the Catherine Kinloch Paver Memorial Macmillan Charity Handicap at York.

The Great Habton handler was delighted a long-term plan had paid off which gave him a fifth victory in the six-furlong feature.

It had not been without its scares, though, as Easterby was forced to run Golden Apollo at Pontefract on Monday and just prayed he won to ensure his place in the field.

A 5lb penalty for that success, as well as being drawn wide in stall one, failed to dampen Easterby's confidence and Golden Apollo (5-1) delivered in style under James Sullivan to deny bottom weight The Wagon Wheel by a neck with Justanotherbottle third and Poet's Society in fourth.

"We couldn't get to run him early as he doesn't like really firm ground and there was a danger he wasn't going to get in the race," said Easterby.

"The plan was to go to Wetherby and win, but he got beat there so we had to go to Pontefract.

"I was never bothered about the draw. I was very happy drawn there. He's a horse that comes off the bridle and picks up, so I told James not to panic but he rode a really good race on him.

"He just got there – it was a bit close.

"He wants soft ground. It was only just all right.

"I'd like to run him in the Ayr Gold Cup one day, but it would have to be soft."

Sullivan completed a double when driving the Ruth Carr-trained Mesardal (7-1) through to win the Rievaulx Sporting Supporting Macmillan Handicap.

Josephine Gordon produced Arabian Hope (6-1) with a well-timed run to land the Listed honours in the Best Western Hotels Ganton Stakes.

The lightly-raced filly took the step up in grade in her stride as she completed a hat-trick after wins in a maiden and a handicap with Gordon in the saddle on both occasions.

She brought the Godolphin-owned filly to challenge long-time leader Golden Stunner inside the final furlong and snatch the prize by a head for last season's champion apprentice.

"Four strides before the line she just got headed, but she went again for me. We were tight for room and she's only little but she's tough and has got a big heart," said Gordon.

Andrew Balding's hunch that Viscount Barfield (11-1) would enjoy fast ground at York proved correct as the four-year-old lifted the JCB Handicap.

Salateen set the pace and stuck on well for third as David Probert guided Viscount Barfield home from Mutawathea by three-quarters of a length.

"He's a horse I've been dying to get on this track. We did run him over a mile here last year, but he needs fast ground and this style of racing really suits him," said Balding.

Visitant (3-1 favourite) looked a horse on the up as he powered clear under James Doyle to win the Ice & Easy Frozen Alcoholic Slushies Handicap for trainer David Thompson.

"We bought him at the Newmarket Sales. He's so laid-back," said Thompson.

"We'll give him two or three weeks and see what races there are."

Joanna Mason steered Tapis Libre (8-1) to victory for a seventh time when taking the Queen Mother's Cup Handicap for lady amateur riders by a length and a quarter from Mukhayyam.

"He just battles on and he kept going. He's so brave," said Mason.

The Richard Fahey-trained International Man (13-2) pulled away from his rivals under Jack Garritty in the final furlong to make a winning debut in the Reg Griffin Appreciation ebfstallions.com Maiden.