Apprentice jockey Amy Graham has spoken of her devastation after the tragic death of Chris Caserta.
Graham was in the water with Caserta when her fellow jockey went missing following a late-night swim at a Gold Coast beach on Wednesday.
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Passersby were able to help Graham to safety after hearing the pair struggling in a rip, however Caserta couldn't be located.
Two lifesavers found the 26-year-old's body floating about 200m offshore near a sand dredging jetty at Main Beach on Friday morning.
The Australian horse racing community has been left shattered by the tragedy, with Graham revealing she's 'traumatised'.
“I’m lost for words,” the 25-year-old wrote on social media.
“It hit hard this morning when I realised your smiling face wouldn’t be seen to greet me at work any more.
“I don’t even know how to feel, I don’t know what to say except that I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you.
“I tried so, so hard to make sure we both got out of there alive. Wherever you are, please know that I did everything I could to save you, and I wish I could have done more.
“I can’t stop asking why you, and not me. Why were you taken from us. You didn’t deserve this, you are the most incredible, positive, nicest guy anyone has met.
“All you ever wanted was to see your mates do well, and you are always willing to help anyone who needed it. You always hyped me up and gave me confidence in myself as a jockey.
“Wednesday night was the most traumatic, scariest and saddest night of my life.
“Neither of us intended for such an innocent decision to turn out so bad. You just wanted to live in the moment and be unapologetically you.
“Who would ever think something like this would happen to yourself or your mates. Sadly for all of us still here, your angels had other plans for you.
“Chris, rest easy and keep smiling up there. We all love you.”
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Chris Caserta. pic.twitter.com/3ULNROldcl
— SKY Racing (@SkyRacingAU) December 2, 2021
Horse racing world in shock over Chris Caserta's death
Graham said she didn't want to go swimming but couldn't let Caserta go in alone.
Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell said Caserta was a "well-liked and highly regarded" competitor who had won more than 150 races across Australia.
"First and foremost, our sincerest condolences are extended to the Caserta family and our thoughts are with them at this tragic time," Mr Parnell said in a statement on Friday.
"The loss of any life is very sad, and at just 26 and with a bright future ahead of him, his loss will be strongly felt by the entire racing community, particularly the Gold Coast fraternity."
Mr Parnell said the Queensland Jockeys' Association will wear black armbands in honour of Caserta in selected races this weekend.
That includes race five at the Ipswich Turf Club where the last horse Caserta won on, Gem of the Lochs, started on Friday.
"It has been a tough period for all that are so close to Chris. A beautiful, hardworking gentleman," trainer Chris Waller said.
"The horses and all of the racing family will miss you Chris, and forever remember you!"
Victorian Jockeys Association boss Matt Hyland added: "To lose such a gifted person and talented jockey in such sad circumstances at just 26 years old is extremely difficult to accept.
"On behalf of the entire Victorian jockey group, we extend our deepest sympathies to Chris's family and friends."
Jockeys donned black armbands in Race 4 at Mornington today to pay tribute and commemorate the life of jockey and friend Chris Caserta. pic.twitter.com/24k7ErWrKL
— Racing Victoria (@RacingVictoria) December 3, 2021
Absolutely devestating news about young Chris Caserta. Lovely kid our condolences go out to his friends and family. RIP mate. 🙏💚💚💚
— Adrian Layt 🏇 (@adrianlayt) December 1, 2021
I’m shocked and gutted by the news of Chris Caserta’s tragic death. A true gentleman and lovely bloke. His smile on all occasions was a breath of fresh air. RIP Chris
— Daniel Williams (@danwilliams2038) December 1, 2021
I’m going to miss you little bro 💙🙏🏼 Thank you for all of the amazing memories and laughs we shared. You touched every single person you met along the way 💔 pic.twitter.com/2QclEjn8Fw
— Stacey Rawiller (@SRawiller) December 2, 2021
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