Racehorse trainer describes night in flood

Jan. 14, 2011 at 2:01 AM
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BRISBANE, Australia, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- An Australian racehorse trainer says he spent 14 hours on a roof surrounded by floodwaters infested with venomous brown snakes.

Murray Sullivan was rescued Wednesday with two of his staff when his employer, Clive Palmer, sent his personal helicopter, ignoring a ban on unofficial flights, the Herald Sun of Melbourne reports.

Palmer's Cold Mountain Stud is in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, which was hit this week by what was described as an "inland tsunami." Fourteen of his 32 horses drowned, most of them yearlings.

Sullivan said the water in the house was waist-high when he and his workers retreated to the roof at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

He had decided to lock the horses in the barn, figuring they would have more of a chance there than if they got tangled with fences on the flooded farm.

They spent a miserable night on the roof listening to horses thrashing around.

''We were drenched, it was dark and we had to keep fending away the snakes with rolled-up towels," he said. "More and more of them kept coming.''

Sullivan said his gamble with the horses paid off -- 16 of the 17 racehorses survived although only one yearling did.

''Those racehorses must have treaded water for at least 7 hours until the water level subsided enough for them to stand,'' he said.

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