Missing daughter brings back memories of childhood abduction for trainer Jason Petch as he looks outside the racing bubble   Leave a comment

Missing daughter brings back memories of childhood abduction for trainer Jason Petch as he looks outside the racing bubble

Petch says he was sitting on the sand on a hot summers night in 2012 when he succumbed to the trainer’s curse of tiredness and momentarily closed his eyes. When he opened them, his daughter Lucy was gone.

Mornington trainer Jason Petch with daughter Lucy and the Sky Nanny app on his mobile pho

Mornington trainer Jason Petch with daughter Lucy and the Sky Nanny app on his mobile phone. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Corp Australia

MORNINGTON trainer Jason Petch was abducted as a boy but it was not until he lost his own daughter on a crowded beach that he found himself wanting to break out of racing’s bubble.

Filled with gut-twisting fear he ran in a panic to the water’s edge, asking desperately of anyone in sight, “Have you seen her? Have you seen her?”

To Petch’s eternal relief, one woman said yes. She spotted his daughter playing among some rocks. She was only two and a half.

Petch says those terrifying five minutes brought back memories of his childhood abduction and that’s when he decided he would make a life outside the bubble.

As he continued training his small stable of horses, including the aptly named Free Of Doubt which runs at Caulfield on Saturday, he set about creating a smart phone-linked tracking device for children.

Last month, that technology, Sky Nanny.net, won a state government innovation award at the Victorian iAwards.

“When I lost my daughter in 2012, the abduction all came back to me,” Petch says. “I remember vividly when the police took us home to my mum. She had no idea where I was, and I remember her bursting into tears. I went ‘jeez, that’s how I felt’.”

Petch and his friend were only six when they were coerced off a Blackrock street by an elderly woman’s promise of fresh mandarins. She locked them in her house for 24 hours, making one sit and play board games while the other was locked in a cupboard.

“We were threatened that if one of us escaped, the other one left behind in the cupboard would be hurt. It was only that her son dropped in to see her that he noticed us in there and called police,” he says.

Jason Petch has created a tracking system for young children as he looks at life away fro

Jason Petch has created a tracking system for young children as he looks at life away from the racetrack. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Corp Australia

“I think that was a pivotal moment because I knew then we were safe. She ended up in a nursing home after that incident.

“It was nothing really sinister it was just something that when Lucy went missing it all came back to me.”

It’s a dreaded feeling that Petch doesn’t wants to prevent other parents ever having to experience. That’s why he sank a lot of cash and the past four years of his life into Sky Nanny.net, which will be released to the public in October.

The idea, Petch says, is to attach a waterproof device to a child, or even a pet, and if they become separated in a crowd the smartphone app will point out how far they are away.

But while he is excited by the impact his idea will have on child safety, today he returns to the bubble.

Jason Petch saddles up Free Of Doubt at Caulfield on Saturday. Picture: Jason Sammon

Jason Petch saddles up Free Of Doubt at Caulfield on Saturday. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Corp Australia

He takes his $31 outsider Free Of Doubt to Caulfield for a 1400m open handicap and gives his bold frontrunner a genuine each-way chance after a return to form last start behind the impressive Yesterday’s Song.

“With the rail out, he’ll no doubt roll forward and his effort to run sixth after doing the donkey work was strong the other day. The horse is going well,” he says.

Petch, now in his 40s, still gets a thrill and adrenalin rush from going to the races, but unlike a lot of people involved in the industry, his life is no longer all about the animals.

“I’m not going to train horses forever and I’m fortunate to have been able to look outside the square and think, ‘here’s a problem, let’s solve it’.

“Sky Nanny was an idea and I ran with it and thankfully it’s headed the right way. Thank God.”

Originally published as Life in the racing bubble and beyond

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Posted July 4, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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