Rakwool was an Australian Thoroughbred gelding racehorse who carried 73 kg (11 st 7 lbs) to win the Grand National Steeplechase at Flemington by 20 lengths in 1931. He cleared the fences beautifully that day, to the relief and surprise of his backers, because Rakwool was possibly the most erratic, reckless bone-jarring performer that Victorian racing has seen.
Rakwool was famous as a rogue, who treated his jumps with disdain and made the hairs stand up on the necks of the jockeys who rode him. The size of the obstacles made no difference to Rakwool, who seemed to take delight in rapping hurdles with his forelegs and ploughing through the tops of fences as if they didn't exist. Small ones, tall ones, no matter what, the gelding still hit them.
Famous rider Bob Inkson won many races on him, but still held him in awe. Inkson never knew what to expect as each jump loomed up ahead. Rakwool put in different risky leaps almost every time, often ploughing through them but somehow managing to keep his feet.
His first hurdle win was at Moonee Valley, when he surged to the lead from the outset and gave his rivals a merry chase. Coming to the last, Hughie Cairns on Quick Deal, moved up to challenge. Rakwool took off very early and Quick Deal tried to go with him. Quick Deal landed with his front legs tangled in the battens and crashed heavily. Cairns was dead before reaching the casualty room.
Because he was such a tearaway in his races, other jockeys became wary of Rakwool as hurdles often rebounded when he collided with them, crashing into the next unfortunate runner. The fact he started his leap so early was also a great concern.
Inkson made sure Rakwool led in his races so the gelding could get a clear sight of the jumps. If he'd been ridden behind other runners it could have proved disastrous, as there would have been no way of measuring them.
Rakwool's first attempt over fences after winning hurdle races gave Inkson the most terrifying ride of his career. Rakwool brushed through almost every fence and ran third at Mentone. How he stood up is a mystery.
In fact, the next time Rakwool ran Inkson was pleased to accept the mount on a gelding named Flavedo. You've[who?] guessed right. Flavedo ran second to Rakwool.
So Inkson took the mount at Moonee Valley. Rakwool had the steadier of 77 kg (12 st 2 lbs) but after having Inkson out on his ears four times, ran second. It was another hair-raiser.
Jumping jockeys are gamer than Ned Kelly and Inkson took the mount on Rakwool at his next start, over the big, solid Flemington fences. He consistently made mistakes and when Inkson dismounted after winning the race he was amazed the gelding's legs were intact.
At his last outing, Rakwool carried the grandstand (13 st 2 lbs) in the Godfrey Watson Steeplechase at Caulfield. Rakwool was up to his usual antics but this time his huge weight overpowered him. He began his leap much too far from the last fence and landed on the near side of it with his chest, throwing his rider clear. Rakwool turned a complete somersault and it was feared he had broken his back.
He jarred his entire body and was partly paralysed for many weeks. But he recovered enough to enjoy his retirement to the paddock.