Jockey Chris Caserta (Image: Racing Photos)
Apprentice jockey Chris Caserta has been thrown a lifeline by trainer Lindsey Smith and is looking to repay the favour by riding a winner at Flemington on Saturday.
Caserta will ride last-start Bendigo winner Queen La Diva and No Say In It, who caught the eye at Caulfield last Saturday.
"I couldn't be more impressed with what I've seen from him," Smith said.
"His work ethic is exceptional, I think he rides really well and I can see him having a lot of success in my stable.
"Everyone deserves a second chance, I've done a lot worse than him in my life and been given another go and I'm happy to be the one providing him with another opportunity."
WATCH: Queen La Diva's Bendigo win
Having endured an interrupted apprenticeship which finishes in September, Caserta has 26 winners remaining as he attempts to outride his claim and he is looking to use this weekend as a chance to rebuild his career.
"The last few months have been incredibly hard," Caserta said.
"I'm working hard, I'm doing the kilometres, I'm putting my hand up for opportunities, but they're just not coming."
Caserta has not ridden a winner since March 11, 2019, when he guided Lieder to victory for Michael Hickmott in South Australia but despite the drought he is still confident in his ability and says he is riding as well as ever.
"I think I'm riding well, but it all comes down to the cattle that you're riding," he said.
"When you look at my rides, many of them are starting at $101, you can ride them as well as you want, it doesn't mean they're going to be good enough to win.
"I still believe on the right horses in the right race I can ride winners in town."
"I get the chance to show that this weekend with both horses being in good form and riding for an in-form stable.
"I'm so grateful for the opportunity that Lindsey and his team have provided me with, nothing would make me happier to show that appreciation by winning at Flemington for them."
WATCH: Caserta's most recent winner Lieder
Seeking opportunities Victoria-wide, Smith was the only trainer that replied and was willing to give Caserta an opportunity.
"I've been calling and messaging a lot of trainers, offering to do drive and work anywhere," Caserta said.
"I told Lindsey and Shane Jackson that I would go to Warrnambool once a week and ride some work, they said they were happy for that arrangement and I've been really enjoying it."