LOCAL hero Tony Cruz strengthened his vice-like grip on the jockeys' championship when equalling his personal best riding performance in one day at Sha Tin yesterday. Cruz, bidding for his sixth title, notched an exceptional 360-1 four-timer. He scored on Gary Ng Ting-keung's Successful Way and Maniwin, in the second and third races. He progressed straight on to the next winner when Wong Tang-ping's Unmasked ran over the top of the strongly-fancied All Thrills and completed his four-timer when Golden Rule whizzed home in the seventh. For good measure, Cruz was beaten by just a head in the opener on Smile For Me as well as finishing second in the Sandown Park Challenge Cup on Endurance and second on Today's Special in the seventh. Cruz, who would have beaten his best ever performance by coming first or second in the last race, said: ''I thought I was going to beat my best as I went out to ride Fantastic Flyer in the last. I couldn't help but tell one of the boys that I had a chanceof doing it - I was excited. ''But I reckon talking about it brought me bad luck. I should have kept my mouth shut and only mentioned it afterwards if Fantastic Flyer had run in the first two.'' Fantastic Flyer eventually finished sixth of the 12 runners in the last, though he never really gave Cruz a shout of breaking his record and extending his lead in the standings. Cruz has now partnered 42 winners this season to establish a yawning gap of 12 over his nearest pursuer Gerald Mosse who is out of action for a month with a broken collarbone. There is then a break of a further three to Darren Beadman. Cruz went on: ''I'm really, really enjoying things. I've never worked so hard. In fact, I'm working like crazy but then I'm fit and I'm riding winners and it is all proving so worthwhile. ''I want another title as I'm a hometown boy who has been away for so long. This is really my first full season for a considerable time, since I won my last championship back in 1985-86.'' In the summer Cruz expects to be off riding in either the United States or France. He explained: ''I will go and visit my old boss Mr Fustok at some point. ''That could mean riding in France or in America as he now has a team of horses in Miami, Florida. I'd really look forward to that as I haven't ridden too much over there.'' More immediately, Cruz is looking forward to the ride on Brian Kan Ping-chee's improving Irish import Happy Guy in the Derby next Sunday. Cruz rode Happy Guy to his defeat of Deerfield in the Classic Trial eight days ago and Happy Guy has made great strides at the track since then, working better than Sound Print and Right Way in a searching gallop on Thursday morning. ''This is a really genuine horse,'' stressed Cruz. ''He gave me everything when he beat Deerfield and he strikes me as a horse who will always do that. I'm glad I'm on him.'' In the meantime, Cruz was left to reflect on what might have been. He was drawn away from his main rival Diamond Treasure in the opener otherwise he may well have prevailed and made it a famous five winners. ''Never mind,'' he concluded. ''There will be another day for this horse and for my second winner, Maniwin, as they will both do well over more ground. ''And you know, I think Unmasked won despite the mile not being his best distance, either. He's no superstar but I do think he will be able to stay up to 2,000 metres.''