Paul Nicholls: is £240,980 behind Jonjo O'Neill in trainers' championshipPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Nicholls blames slow start on fitness of string
CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls admitted on Tuesday he was struggling to get his horses to peak fitness and that many were needing their first runs heading into the core jumps season.
The slow start to the season has left Nicholls languishing in 13th place in the trainers' championship on 11 wins from 68 runners. He is 42 wins and £240,980 behind leader Jonjo O'Neill in the standings.
Although it is still early days in the campaign, Nicholls said: "I don't know the reason why but it has been that much harder to get some of the horses fit this season and quite a few are needing a run, but there's no point in rushing them."
The Ditcheat trainer, who was champion for the eighth time last season, is down on both runners as well as winners this season.
At this point last year, Nicholls had saddled 26 winners from 106 runs and, the previous season, 27 from 102.
Nicholls is a 6-4 shot for the 2014-15 trainers' championship, with Nicky Henderson the even-money favourite. O'Neill can be backed at 6-1.