Highly respected British trainer Mark Johnston feels the prison sentence given to Stanley Chin was 'too harsh' and has revealed how he tried many times to talk the jockey into leaving Hong Kong. Johnston, due back with the World Series Racing Championship hopeful Fruits Of Love for the $10 million Hong Kong Cup on December 12, was shocked and saddened to hear of the 3.5-year jail sentence handed down to Chin and one of two years and eight months for girlfriend Denise Yeung, whom he also knows. Johnston, whose wins have included English Classics and a string of Group successes, gave a testimonial to the court for Chin before he was sentenced this month. He said: 'I was asked by Stanley to do this and he seemed to be resigned to the fact he would be in jail for at least three or four months, pending an appeal.' Johnston outlined his experiences with Chin and the glowing words of a noted hard taskmaster in Britain underline just what a self-inflicted loss the 25-year-old Chinese jockey is to racing. Said Johnston: 'He came to us for part of the 1996 season at the request of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and he was an immediate success both on and off the track. 'He was clearly one of the most highly skilled apprentice jockeys I had ever encountered and he was punctual, reliable and hard-working to boot. I used him as an example to all our staff of how a budding jockey should conduct himself.' Chin returned to the Yorkshire racing town of Middleham and more success the following year but the trainer was unable to secure a work permit for the jockey last summer. Chin then went to Germany, where he had some spectacular successes. The Scots-born trainer also revealed how he tried to get Chin to quit Hong Kong to go overseas. He also delivered a sideswipe at Hong Kong trainers whom he believes have a tendency to use local jockeys on the horses which were not expected to win. Johnston was sure that Chin and a couple of other good local riders did not enjoy the support they deserved. 'Throughout the time I knew him and when he was with me, I tried to advise him to leave Hong Kong. I thought he was certainly the best jockey to come out of the Hong Kong apprentice school since Tony Cruz and that, if he wanted as much or more than Tony, then he must make his name outside Hong Kong. 'I told him that, if he took my advice, he could return to Hong Kong in later years and enjoy a different level of support and respect. 'When I met with him in Hong Kong in December last year I thought for the first time that I had him convinced. He was arrested the day after I left.' Johnston followed the reports of the case through newspapers and knew that Chin had bribed other apprentice jockeys to fix races. 'As I would suspect is usually the case, the attempt failed as the horses did not finish in the predicted order. Sadly, Stanley's and/or his accomplices' ineptitude was not taken by the court as any excuse for having attempted the fraud,' said Johnston. The Chin case made little news in Britain or elsewhere and it was only through his personal links with the jockey that Johnston followed it closely. 'I would never try to excuse such a crime but I cannot help but think the penalties dished out to this young couple are too harsh. Whatever happens, the career of a bright and gifted young jockey has been brought to a shattering close. 'I cannot see that it is justified to take 3.5 years away as well,' said Johnston, who added that it was a lesson to all in racing.