Police find body in search for missing jockey Chris Caserta

Queensland Police, pictured here admitting they were searching for Chris Caserta's body.
Queensland Police say they've found Chris Caserta's body. Image: Nine News/AAP

Queensland Police say they've found the body of missing jockey Chris Caserta, 36 hours after he disappeared during a late-night swim at a Gold Coast beach.

Police say the 26-year-old's body was found floating about 200m offshore near a sand dredging jetty at Main Beach on Friday morning.

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"It is believed to be the body of Chris Caserta, however a formal identification is yet to be completed," a police spokesperson told AAP.

"Once that happens we will prepare a report for the coroner."

The Victorian Jockeys Association CEO Matthew Hyland told AAP Mr Caserta's family has been told by police that his body has been found.

A frantic search and rescue operation was launched when Caserta couldn't be located following a swim at a Gold Coast beach around 10pm on Wednesday night.

On Thursday afternoon, Gold Coast Water Police and Search Commander Senior Sergeant Jay Notaro made the devastating admission that the time frame for Caserta's survival had elapsed.

Search efforts stretched from as far as South Stradbroke Island to Burleigh Heads.

Chris Caserta, pictured here after winning the Ladbrokes Back Yourself Plate in 2018.
Chris Caserta returns to the mounting yard after winning the Ladbrokes Back Yourself Plate in 2018. (Natasha Morello/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

"It is an absolute tragedy at any time, but particularly just before Christmas," Sen Sgt Notatro said on Thursday.

"On behalf of the Queensland Police Service, I'd like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues in the racing industry."

Caserta disappeared after going swimming with 25-year-old apprentice jockey Amy Graham at the beach off the Esplanade in Surfers Paradise.

Onlookers saw the couple struggling in the water and were able to help Ms Graham to the shore.

“I thought I was going to die, I tried my best to save him, keep him calm and breathe without struggling myself," Graham has since revealed.

"But we just kept getting dunked over and over and over again. It happened so fast, we just got dragged out.

“We didn’t even go that far but the ocean took us out … I didn’t even want to go in but I couldn’t let him go in alone.”

Graham said she and Caserta had gone to dinner in Surfers Paradise when the popular jockey wanted to go for a swim.

“He had dinner and two drinks and he wanted to go for a swim,” Graham’s boss, trainer John Zielke told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“Amy is doing it pretty tough at the moment.”

Chris Caserta and Amy Graham, pictured here on Facebook.
Chris Caserta was swimming with Amy Graham when he went missing. Images: Facebook

Tributes flow for Chris Caserta

The LifeFight chopper was deployed, tasked by the Queensland Police Service on Wednesday evening to help scour the coastline.

Surf Lifesaving Queensland, Gold Coast City Council, volunteer marine rescue, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and South Stradbroke Island Park Ranger also assisted in the search.

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 said.

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

Sen Sgt Notaro added it's a timely reminder to swim on patrolled beaches during monitored hours.

"By not doing so, you're putting your own life at risk and also putting the lives at risk of those people who try and rescue you," he said.

A well-respected jockey in the Australian racing industry, Caserta most recently rode at Grafton on Sunday.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media.

with AAP

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