Jockey mistakes 15-foot python for 'big crack' on horse racetrack

A jockey and his horse were (literally) stopped in their tracks this week. Masayuki Abe was rounding the corner on his horse at Cannon Park Racecourse in Cairns, Australia, around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday when he spotted what looked like a "big crack on the ground."

A gateman yelled, "Be careful there is a big..."

Abe couldn't make out the end of the man's sentence, so he continued galloping toward the sand track. On his last lap, he discovered why he was being warned: the dark shadow he was seeing was actually a giant carpet python, slithering across the track.

"I didn't think it was a snake because I've just never seen that big one before," Abe told Fox News. "In two seconds, I realized that was what the gateman was yelling to me and I was so scared after that."

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The dark shadow Masayuki Abe was seeing was actually a giant carpet python, slithering across the track.  (Masayuki Abe)

At first, Abe admitted he disregarded the gateman's warning, assuming he was warning about a kangaroo or some other creature.

"I thought maybe it was a big kangaroo or something," he said. "There are millions of Kangaroos on track in Cairns."

He's never seen something quite like this.

"I didn't think it was a snake because I've just never seen that big one before."

- Masayuki Abe

Abe estimated the snake was somewhere between 15 and 16 feet long. He tried to distract his horse, so the animal wouldn't be frightened by the giant reptile -- and fortunately, he was succesful.

"My horse didn't even look at that," Abe said.

Abe posted several photos of the impressive creature, which he referred to as a "big boy," on Facebook. Nearly 4,000 shared the jockey's post and hundreds commented on the python's size.

"That's a big fat nope," one Facebook user wrote.

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It took about four hours for the carpet python to slither out of sight and into the bushes.  (Masayuki Abe)

"That thing's huge," another added, asking a friend to join him at the races.

"He's lived a long time! Hope he keeps further away from humans," one user commented.

Abe said the python escaped unharmed, though it awhile -- about four hours -- for him to disappear into the bushes.

"We’ve cancelled meets because of locusts, dogs on the track and even a sheep on the track, but never for a snake before."

- John Cameron, Cairns Jockey Club general manager

Cairns Jockey Club general manager John Cameron confirmed to Australia's Cairns Post that this is the first official sighting of a carpet python on racetrack grounds.

“It’s funny, we’ve cancelled meets because of locusts, dogs on the track and even a sheep on the track, but never for a snake before," Cameron told the Post. "“They’re a bit scary for the horses, so we made sure to take the horses away from the area."

The snake's appearance was shocking to some, but Cameron said he's seen ones even bigger in the area. This particular kind, he said, is the "smallest of the family."

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This particular kind, he said, is the "smallest of the family."  (Masayuki Abe)