GALLANT Crown Counsel (6-1) defied topweight and an extreme outside draw to win the Pearce Memorial Challenge Cup yesterday for delighted trainer Lawrie Fownes. And no less pleased was French star Gerald Mosse, sacked last week by Patrick Biancone but responsible for another faultless ride. Crown Counsel, settled sweetly and conserved for a run under the big weight of 138 pounds, stormed through in the closing stages of the Classes One and Two, 1,400-metre event to win by a tenacious short head from 90-1 outsider Key On. Fownes, who has started the horse only three times this season, said: ''He is as game as they come but he is a horse who is in Class One without really being a Class One horse. ''He is also a little fellow and the weight was always a major worry plus, of course, the barrier draw. I have only started him a few times because it is so hard to place him. ''But he is not a horse who will let you down and he really ran a great race today. And it was an excellent riding performance,'' said Fownes. Crown Counsel responded brilliantly to the vigor of Mosse in the concluding stages but it was a tremendous tussle with Key On to the line. Key On, with Jimmy K. H. Ting astride, has been out of form and was totally out of the reckoning. But he hit the front inside the final 100 metres and it was a neck-and-neck battle to the line. It was an excellent effort from Ting, who recently lost his claim but urbane French star Mosse was unconcerned. He said: ''In this game, you just have to win. There is nothing extra for the margin. I am pleased to have won but particularly as the horse really gave a lot. He is very genuine.'' Clear Classic (9-2), who had finished third over 1,200 metres last time, was favourite in the middle stages of betting and finished third without ever threatening. There was a sensational plunge for New Zealand mare Natural Talent (9-2 favourite), with Greg Childs up, who had finished a fair fifth at her first start in Hongkong. Natural Talent opened at 8-1 and there was a real buzz around Sha Tin as her price dropped dramatically in the closing minutes of betting starting a mini-stampede from the public to get on. But it was to little avail as Natural Talent, who may not have appreciated the hot, sticky conditions, finished midfield without ever being a factor. Mustang (8-1) ran a moderate fourth but did not unduly raise connections hopes and may well have done enough for the season. Last-start winner Shaka Zulu (6-1) struck a rough passage in transit before the home turn but may not have come out of his last run as well as expected - with the added 10 pounds burden also taking its toll. There was no support for Splendid (35-1) who had run so promisingly at his debut two starts back and then was a fair fifth last time. While he was never going to trouble anyone unduly, his final seventh placing was not without merit and there could be a race for him early next season. Prudent King (50-1) made the early running on the inside of Sunday Cruise (7-1) who did not seem to settle particularly well for Darren Gauci and may not have appreciated the fast ground. Clear Classic was just off the pace along with Shaka Zulu while the eventual winner was trotting along in midfield and looking good even in the early stages. There was little worthwhile support for Irish import Mannidear (25-1) but he is not the worst and will improve on this outing.