A body found floating 200m offshore of a Gold Coast beach has been formally identified as missing jockey Chris Caserta.
Caserta, 26, disappeared during a swim at Surfers Paradise on Wednesday night, with authorities launching a widespread air, land and sea search for the popular young rider.
By Thursday afternoon, the missing Victorian was presumed dead, with rescue efforts focusing on recovering his body.
Authorities on Friday morning confirmed surf lifesavers on waverunners had spotted a body in the water at 8.30am, floating 200m offshore from the sand pumping jetty near the Southport Spit.
At 10.30am, it was confirmed that the body was Caserta.
Police will prepare a report for the Coroner.
Caserta was swimming at Surfers Paradise with apprentice jockey Amy Graham, 25, at 10pm on Wednesday when the pair got into trouble in the surf.
It is believed they were caught in a rip.
Bystanders heard Graham screaming and rushed to help her out of the water, but Caserta was unable to make it to shore.
Graham was taken to Gold Coast University hospital in a stable condition, having inhaled some water.
On Friday morning she shared an emotional Facebook tribute to Mr Caserta.
“I’m lost for words. It hit hard this morning when I realised your smiling face wouldn’t be seen to greet me at work anymore,” Graham wrote.
“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. Where ever you are, please know that I did everything I could to save you, and I wish I could have done more.
“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 unapologeticly you. Who would ever think something like this would happen to yourself or your mates.
“Chris, rest easy and keep smiling up there. We all love you.”
It is understood Mr Caserta’s parents have arrived in Queensland from Victoria.
Caserta relocated to the Sunshine State last year to chase more lucrative career opportunities.
He is most renowned for his 2019 race on Jedastar in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington, when he rode at just 44kg after a dramatic weight loss.
Caserta last rode at Grafton on Sunday, finishing fifth on Gus Lightning in the 1100m Blue Brews and BBQ’s Class 1 Handicap.
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