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NIGHT NURSE

Name: Night Nurse (IRE)
D.O.B: 26th May 1971
Colour: Bay
Sex: Gelding
Sire: Falcon
Dam: Florence Nightingale
Breeder: Eleanor Samuelson
Trainer: Peter Easterby
Owner: Reg Spencer
Record: 35: 3 Flat/19 Hurdles/13 Chases
Earnings: £174,507

Wins/Places In Major Races (Prize Money £10,000+)
1975 - 1st - Fighting Fifth Hurdle
1975 - 1st -Irish Sweeps Hurdle
1976, 1977 - 1st - Champion Hurdle
1976 - 1st - Scottish Champion Hurdle
1976, 1977 - 1st - Welsh Champion Hurdle
1977 - DH - Templegate Hurdle
1977 - 1st - William Hill Hurdle
1977 - 1st - Free Handicap Hurdle
1979 - 1st - Sean Graham Trophy chase
1979 - 1st - Buchanan Whisky Gold Cup Chase 
1982 - 1st - Mandarin Handicap Chase
1982 - 1st - Pennine Chase
No single hurdler stands out from all the other champions as clearly the greatest of all time in the same way that Arkle does among steeplechasers, but Night Nurse was the best during the golden age of hurdling.

Night Nurse won the Champion Hurdle in 1976 and again in 1977, when, in the highest-quality hurdle race ever run, he proved himself superior to two other dual champions, Monksfield and Sea Pigeon (his stablemate). He later dead-heated with Monksfield in the most thrilling hurdle race of all time, and achieved the best form over fences of any Champion Hurdle winner.

Yet it was his rare combination of panache, toughness, indomitable will to win, bold front-running style and exhilarating jumping that made him a public favourite. He was a champion not only on form, but also in terms of the entertainment and excitement he provided during nine seasons over jumps, winning exactly half his 64 races.

Having been a leading juvenile hurdler, Night Nurse was unbeaten in eight races in 1975/76 including the Champion Hurdle and its equivalents in Ireland (Sweeps Hurdle), Scotland and Wales. At Cheltenham he led throughout and kept on too strongly for Birds Nest, Comedy Of Errors and Lanzarote.
He completed a run of ten consecutive hurdling victories in the autumn of 1976, and then clinched his second title when leading for most of the way in a uniquely classy renewal of the Champion Hurdle. He battled on to beat Monksfield by two lengths, with Dramatist, Sea Pigeon and Birds Nest next; each of them would have been a worthy winner in an average year.

Only 17 days later, in the Templegate Hurdle at Aintree, Night Nurse put up the greatest single performance by any hurdler in the history of the sport. He conceded 6lb to Monksfield and the pair gave their all in an epic duel which finished in a dead- heat.

Night Nurse lost some of his sparkle in 1977/78, finishing third to Monksfield and Sea Pigeon in the Champion Hurdle and second to Monksfield in the Templegate Hurdle. He was sent over fences the following season.
Night Nurse never won the really big steeplechase that his talents deserved but nearly became the first horse to bring off the Champion Hurdle—Cheltenham Gold Cup double. In the 1981 Gold Cup he made much of the running and was foiled only by stablemate Little Owl, who beat him by a length and a half with Silver Buck third.

He started favourite for the Gold Cup the following year but was pulled up behind Silver Buck, who triumphed in most of their encounters during a long-running and memorable rivalry.

When Night Nurse died in 1998, full of years and honours, Peter Easterby, who had trained him throughout his career, said: "What made him so special was that he was a natural jumper, brilliant from the first time we ever schooled him. He was a very, very brave horse.

1976 Champion Hurdle

1977 Champion Hurdle

 

 

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