"It's sad to see him go but he had a long life and we're never going to forget him," Easterby said. "He was so tough and was as brave as a lion."
Night Nurse, like his contemporary and stablemate Sea Pigeon, made his name chiefly as a hurdler, both winning the Champion Hurdle twice.
"I wouldn't like to say which was the better of the two," Easterby said. "Sea Pigeon might have had the better speed but when he came up against Night Nurse it was usually Night Nurse that came out on top."
Night Nurse was ridden in many of his early races by the Irishman Paddy Broderick whose long-rein style perfectly suited the horse's way of running. The gelding featured in one of the most exciting races of recent decades when dead-heating with Monksfield for the 1977 Templegate Hurdle at Aintree, the race before Red Rum's third Grand National win.
Night Nurse was successfully switched to chasing and was several times fancied to win the Gold Cup but the closest he came was when second to Little Owl in 1981.
In nine seasons Night Nurse won 32 of his 64 races over jumps, earning over pounds 130,000 in winning prize-money.
The Champion Hurdler of 1996, Collier Bay, made a disappointing start to his career over fences yesterday when beaten in a novices' chase at Towcester. The 1-3 favourite, trained by Jim Old, went down by a length and a half to Kurakka. Mick Fitzgerald, Collier Bay's rider, described the gelding as "idle and uncompetitive".
Dorans Pride remains 10-1 with the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power for next year's Gold Cup after repeating last year's clear-cut success in the Morris Oil Chase over two and a half miles at Clonmel yesterday, on this occasion he was almost unbackable at 1-5.Reuse content