THE word on everyone's lips last week was ''unprecedented'' after Hongkong jockey Danny Lee's successful appeal against a nine-meeting ban. The suspension was imposed for his riding of Super Win Boo at an equitrack meeting at the end of March. The five-year-old horse finished eight lengths last of seven to Diamond Treasure. Lee, following an adjourned inquiry, received his ban for failing to ride his mount to obtain the best possible placing. There is a big difference from this charge and saying he deliberately held the horse back, but it is still a serious offence - hence the length of the original ban. Furthermore, it is understood that it was a firm, unequivocal, decision made by the race-meeting stewards on duty that night. The decision of the appeals panel, comprising Jockey Club vice-chairman John Swaine, Alan Li and Mike Thornhill, to completely overturn the ban took most observers by surprise - not least because a suspension of this severity has never been rescinded in its entirety before. Indeed, if Declan Murphy could not win an appeal when he was so patently not the cause in Gerald Mosse's fall from King Prawn a couple of months ago, what chance did Lee have of winning his appeal? Not only that, but Lee, the former John Moore apprentice, has been one of the success stories of this season. He has been riding in terrific form and he knew this effort on Super Win Boo did not look good. It had become an open secret that the best he was hoping for was a reduction of the ban from nine to six meetings. A close scrutiny of the video replay shows why. There is no question of him pulling the horse. Equally, there is no question of him gaining a Queen's Award for Industry either - he sat very quietly in the saddle for a significant part of the race. Moving from the incident itself to the wider implications of Lee's successful appeal, there are two points which need to be raised. On the one hand, it is really good to see that the Jockey Club is not simply an immovable monolith. The appeals panel really does work. As indeed it should, staffed with men of the calibre of Swaine, Li and Thornhill. But on the other hand, the stipendiary stewards have been left in an invidious position. There could be a reluctance to act in the future after this thwarting of their best endeavours. That would be a very sad scenario for racing. QUARANTINE issues once again loomed large at a recent trainers' meeting with much support for an argument put forward in this column a couple of months ago. The most successful equine quarantine operation is to be found in Australia and New Zealand where they insist on the horses having a spell in isolation before they leave their country of origin. This allows checks to be run over them. Any horse with any problem stays put. In contrast, in Hongkong the whole quarantine period occurs on arrival. Even with the period extended to a month, it is fraught with danger. Take a basic example. When a human sneezes, he scatters thousands of tiny droplets. Imagine the number when a horse gives a blow. And imagine what happens if a horse with the 'flu virus gives a blow in proximity to his mafoo. Will the mafoo scrupulously change his clothes and wash his hands and his hair before going off to deal with other horses outside the quarantine area? Highly unlikely. So there is a danger, however small, of viruses failing to be contained, even under new quarantine arrangements which are better than their predecessors. What is needed is a period of quarantine, even if it is for only 10 days, before a horse is flown out. The argument against this is that it is too awkward, with owners buying horses at different times and wanting to ship them out at different times. This is true. It will be a real pain to organise and administer. But the Club should say to owners, quarantine begins on, for example, October 10, 1993. The first group will be admitted on that date, grouped in their countries of origin. They would be released on October 24 and the next group would start on October 25.And so on. Such a system may be unpopular to begin with, but it is only a minor irritant for local racing compared to the spectre of another 'flu epidemic. It may be costly to set up but it is a drop in the ocean compared to the potential costs of closing racing down again. It is no accident that Australia and New Zealand have escaped the ravages of the 'flu. We need to adopt their quarantine system as soon as possible.