FELIX Coetzee, the professionals' professional, yesterday brought up his first half-century of winners in a Hong Kong season with a typically consummate front-running display on High Spirits for retaining trainer Tony Cruz in the featured Lusitano Challenge Cup at Sha Tin. Coetzee, a multiple champion in his native South Africa, where he is revered in the same way the British or Aussie punter was for years in awe of Lester Piggott or Mick Dittman, has claimed third place in the jockey standings in what is by far and away his best campaign in the Orient. Coetzee was visibly pleased as he left the track and confirmed: 'I'm thrilled to have got to 50 and have applied to ride for Tony [Cruz] again next season. I have not applied for a Club jockey position. 'I really hope the retainership is approved as he has been a real pleasure to work for. 'He's bought some fantastic horses. We've had a great season and there is plenty to look forward to next season.' High Spirits comfortably led his Classes Two and Three rivals and Coetzee is no more dangerous than when he's allowed to dominate from the front. The challengers loomed turning for home but Coetzee had once again kept plenty up his sleeve to repel all comers by a classy 2.25 lengths. It was Merry Star who emerged from out of the pack to claim second spot with Victory Drum third. Merry Star's effort was all the better considering he was shuffled back to last turning out of the home straight in this 2,000-metre contest. Coetzee went on: 'I know we had things go our own way but you've got to have the horse under you in the first place to be able to go and do that. 'This fellow is now starting to fulfil what we always thought he was capable of. 'He did lose his form there for a while but Tony has done a super job with him. He eased off him a bit and has brought him back going better than ever. 'It might have looked as if we had it easy but by the same token when I asked him to kick and go again, he found plenty and hit that line travelling very strongly for me.' The success, besides completing Coetzee's half-century for the season, took Cruz to the 53-winner mark and preserved the status quo between him and John Moore at the head of the trainer standings. Moore was on the mark later in the day when his outsider Plenty Win held on well from an unlucky Super Performance, who surely would have won but for meeting interference going into the bottom turn in this ninth event. Moore remains 10 behind Cruz and, with just eight meetings left, looks to have little hope of closing the gap. Even if Cruz and Coetzee hit a brick wall during the last month, they can still be expected to have, say, three winners. That would leave Moore needing almost two winners a meeting to get his head in front. It is surely an impossible task. Coetzee's countryman, Robbie Fradd, now has the riding championship firmly tucked in his locker not only because his arch rival Douglas Whyte picked up a three-meeting careless riding ban, but also because Fradd took the second while Whyte endured a winless meeting. Fradd scored on the Ivan Allan-trained griffin Aucash, who held on grimly from Bruce Hutchison's fast-finishing Par Avion. Incidentally, Aucash is one of the last foals out of the quality Sir Tristram mare, All Grace, who also threw Bart Cummings star stayer, the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup winner, Saintly. Down in the Class Six ranks, local lightweight jockey Eddie Lai did a good job to get the David Hill-trained Osprey Reef home in the seventh. Lai has now ridden 12 winners this season and would be a loss to the riding ranks if he stays in Germany after his intended summer stint with leading trainer Peter Schiergen, as he says he might if he kicks a goal or two out there.