Australian jockey Paddy Payne won a landmark appeal against a nine-day suspension yesterday in a decision that further rocks the embattled stipendiary stewards' panel of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Payne was given the controversial ban for not taking all permissible measures to obtain the best possible placing on the David Hill-trained Key Largo at Happy Valley on February 11. The stipendiary stewards' decision came after an adjourned inquiry and sparked an immediate uproar as racing media and television pundits compared the suspension to the lack of action taken in the Seattle Sun incident. Payne's appeal yesterday was heard by the high-profile panel that comprised Chairman of Stewards of the Jockey Club, Wong Chung-hin, deputy chairman Alan Li Fook-sum and steward Michael Thornhill. While upholding the appeal after a hearing that lasted most of the morning, the three-man panel severely warned Payne as to his future riding. The official Jockey Club notice, issued late in the afternoon, said: 'After carefully considering all the evidence and statements made and a study of the films of a number of races at the appeal hearing, the stewards decided with some reluctance that in all the circumstances they were prepared to give jockey P. Payne the benefit of a very grave doubt. Accordingly, the stewards upheld the appeal. 'The stewards, however, issued jockey P. Payne with a serious warning that he must in future be seen to ride in such a manner as to leave no room for doubt as to his effort to enable his mounts to obtain the best possible placing and this warning will go on jockey P. Payne's record.' The two-hour hearing ended shortly before lunchtime and Payne said later: 'I am very relieved that it is all over and that my appeal has been upheld. It is a very great relief and I think that is my real feeling at the moment. It has been a very hard time for me recently with this hanging over my head. 'I would like to say that the appeals panel gave me a very fair hearing and listened to what we had to say. I am grateful for that but now I just want to get on with my job and concentrate on my Derby Day rides.' Key evidence at the appeal came from Key Largo's owner, Nick Etches, who is also a Race Day steward and has sat in on scores of similar inquiries. He had not been heard at the original inquiries. Payne also produced a number of videos of previous races comparing his well-known riding style with his efforts on Key Largo. Key Largo, who has been disappointing after a good first run, was making his Happy Valley debut and tackling the 1,650-metre trip for the first time - all telling factors. Trainer Hill, who retains the talented rider, also gave evidence having previously stressed that he was totally happy with the run of Key Largo. He said later: 'This hasn't been much of a time for the stable. I am very pleased for Paddy and, in particular, the owner that it has turned out this way. 'Personally, it's something that I want to put behind me immediately. It's over, it's finished and there's really nothing more I want to say about it. 'It has been a difficult time for Paddy, too, as he has had to prepare the appeal and that has not been easy. Now we can get back to the job in hand,' added Hill. Payne, who consulted racing fan and legal eagle Kevin Egan when preparing the successful appeal, is the only jockey in recent years to have completely turned over a sentence on what is a very serious charge. There have been cases of bans being reduced or even charges changed and lighter sentences then brought in. Coming on the heels of widely expressed public and media dissatisfaction with the stipendiary stewards' panel, yesterday's decision further erodes credibility and will fuel more calls for changes to the existing panel. Chief stipendiary steward Clinton P. Pitts Jnr was in meetings and not available for comment late yesterday.