'Fearing the worst': Aussie jockey missing after late-night beach swim

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Chris Caserta, pictured here after winning the Ladbrokes Back Yourself Plate at Caulfield in 2018.
Chris Caserta celebrates after winning the Ladbrokes Back Yourself Plate at Caulfield in 2018. (Natasha Morello/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

A search and rescue operation is underway for jockey Chris Caserta after the well-known hoop went missing during a late-night swim at a Gold Coast beach on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old disappeared during a swim at Surfers Paradise about 10pm on Wednesday night.

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Queensland Police said Caserta and a 25-year-old woman - believed to be trackwork rider Amy Graham - were both in the water when passersby heard screaming.

Members of the public reportedly helped the woman back to the beach, but Caserta hasn't been located.

A land, sea and air search commenced at 2am on Thursday in an attempt to locate Caserta amid fears he has drowned.

The young jockey was last seen wearing black shorts.

Joel McEwan of the Queensland Ambulance Service said conditions in the water were "okay" but the area is known for rips and currents.

“The rescue helicopter as well as lifesavers on jet skis patrolled for some time (on Wednesday night) but were unable to locate (Mr Caserta),” Mr McEwan said.

“As far as we know they went for a swim and some people on the esplanade heard a woman screaming and went in after her. But they were unable to locate him.

“The surf conditions looked OK just from the beach, but we’re aware of some significant undertows in that area from time to time which would have made it challenging for anyone out trying to rescue someone.”

The search is reportedly being hampered by gusty winds and murky water caused by heavy rainfall this week.

Chris Caserta, pictured here after winning the bet365 Top Tote Plus BM58 Handicap at Bairnsdale Racecourse in 2020.
Chris Caserta returns to the mounting yard after winning the bet365 Top Tote Plus BM58 Handicap at Bairnsdale Racecourse in 2020. (Ross Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Racing community 'fearing the worst' about Caserta

Originally from Victoria, Caserta relocated to Queensland last year for more career opportunities.

He previously competed in South Australia as well.

South Australian coach Dean Pettit said the racing community was hoping for the best but "fearing for the worst".

Pettit said Caserta "gives his all" whenever he is racing and is widely respected in the racing community.

"He moved to Queensland for a fresh opportunity and I understand in the past six weeks he was starting to make a good impact," Pettit told ABC.

"What's happened is affecting a lot of people and we're just really hoping for the best, but the racing community knows this doesn't look good."

Friend Jayden Lloyd told the ABC Caserta is an "absolute legend"

"He wouldn't harm anyone and it's just absolutely tragic," Mr Lloyd said.

"He's one of the nice guys."

Minister for Education and Racing Grace Grace extended her condolences to Mr Caserta's family in parliament on Thursday.

"My thoughts are also with the family and friends of jockey Chris Caserta, who is currently missing after a late-night swim at Surfers Paradise," she told parliament.

"I can only imagine what Chris' family and friends are going through."

Caserta most recently rode at Grafton on Sunday.

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