LEADING Melbourne trainer Lee Freedman was glowing in his praise of Hong Kong-based jockey Piere Strydom after his victory on Elegant Lass in the Crown Trophy (1,000 metres) at Moonee Valley yesterday. 'That showed why Piere is now being regarded as one of the top jockeys in the world,' Freedman said as Strydom was returning to scale aboard the Jugah three-year-old. 'I was very impressed by the way he pushed her to the line like the good English jockeys, rather than going for the whip like the Australians do.' After being unplaced in the first two races of the Asia Pacific Jockeys' Challenge, Strydom's chances of figuring in the prize money seemed forlorn when Elegant Lass was last at the 400 metres. But as the field was sweeping around the turn into the 174-metre Valley straight, she suddenly began gathering momentum. With Strydom cleverly steering a passage through his 11 rivals, Elegant Lass passed runner after runner to snatch a half-neck victory from Diamond Tipped in the very last stride. 'It was a great thrill,' Strydom said. 'I really didn't think she could possibly win until the 200 metres, when she just took off.' Hong Kong's leading apprentice, Stanley K. M. Chin, also figured in the placings in the Jockeys' Challenge Series. Chin brought Prince Humble with a late run to finish second a half-length behind the fancied Our Quintet in the Thailand Cup (2,040 metres). Former Hong Kong jockey Damien Oliver, who suddenly decided to return to Australia earlier this month, registered his first metropolitan winner since resuming from suspension at the meeting. Aboard the Freedman stable's Derobe, who is raced in partnership by Hong Kong identity Michael Bastion, Oliver made most of the running in the Turf Authorities Of India Trophy (1,600 metres).