Horse Racing

Chris Caserta starting from scratch to resurrect his riding career in Queensland

It was only two years ago Chris Caserta was the talk of the town in Melbourne after his weight loss to ride Jedastar at 44kg in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington.

Now the 26-year-old jockey is “working his arse off”, knowing he could be on his last chance to make his riding career work after moving to live at Tweed Heads on the Queensland-NSW border.

He now admits he got ahead of himself at times in Melbourne and says he is happy to start from scratch in his new northern riding career.

Caserta hasn’t set the world on fire since moving north – he has only had one winner from his last 67 rides and ridden five winners from 85 starters overall in Queensland.

But he has an ace up his sleeve.

He says he could easily ride again at 44kg and is hoping trainers could come calling when needing lightweight riders for Group 1s in the upcoming Queensland winter carnival.

While most jockeys struggle to lose weight, Caserta is the opposite and at times wouldn’t mind putting a bit of weight on.

“I could get down to 44 (kg) again – I am walking around at 49-50kg,” Caserta said.

Chris Caserta in the sauna in his bid to get down to 44kg for the 2019 Lightning Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Approaching the winter carnival with some of the lightweight rides they have in the Group 1s, I am hoping someone would ask me to ride in one of those big races.

“When I was riding winners in Victoria, my confidence probably got the better of me and I was maybe thinking I was better than I was.

“I was getting a bit ahead of myself down there.

“I have had to put all that aside and basically start again, I try to do trackwork every morning.

“I’ve got to really knuckle down and work hard to even get a look in at maybe riding back in Melbourne down the track.

“At the moment looking at my form, it’s not really crash hot, but I am trying to just get some form back and get some winners and things will go from there.”

In a bid to regenerate his career, Caserta has been getting extra help from former Group 1-winning Victorian jockey James Winks who is now running a jockey coaching/mentoring business.

Caserta in the gym in 2019 before the Lightning Stakes where he rode Jedastar at 44kg. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Caserta is happy to travel almost anywhere in search of a winner – he will jet to Rockhampton in central Queensland later this week for their two-day country carnival.

He knows he is going through a barren stretch for winners but is convinced he made the right move to join the growing exodus of Victorian jockeys heading to ride in Queensland for a fresh start.

“Through COVID, it wasn’t easy for me being a lightweight jockey in Victoria,” Caserta said.

“They had pushed the weights up to 56 (kg) as a minimum and not many trainers like dead weight on their horses.

“Pretty much every jockey in the jockeys’ room can ride 56 (kg).

“So I would be going to Terang or Warrnambool or places like that for just one ride.

“It was not really worth going.

“If anything I was losing money after paying for petrol rather than making any money.”

While Jedastar finished last in the 2019 Lightning but Caserta would love another chance to ride at racing’s highest level and is trying to leave no stone unturned in his bid to start again and climb up racing’s highest peaks.

Originally published asReborn jockey’s new outlook to revive career

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