The focus for Daniel Ayres will soon turn towards another stab at PDC Q-School, but as the British summer draws to a close he can look back in fondness on his ‘biggest achievement’ a few months ago.
The Cheshire thrower came through a quality field to reach the final of the BDO Gold Cup, in June, losing out to newly-crowned World Trophy champion Jim Williams in the decider.
“I look back on it now and I’m absolutely buzzing to have got to the final,” Ayres said. “It’s the biggest achievement I’ve had in darts and I’m just aiming now to try and build on that.”
Ayres’ second appearance in the Gold Cup, one of the most synonymous competitions to the BDO, having first been held back in 1978, and won by the likes of John Lowe, Eric Bristow and Bob Anderson, involved an early alarm, waking up at 5am to make the trip to the Magna Centre, in Rotherham.
“The missus wasn’t too pleased to be woken up that early!” Ayres admitted. “I played in the Gold Cup last year and I played really well in the first round.
“I lost in the second round, but I said to my girlfriend I’ll give it another try this year and I managed to qualify.
“It was an early train journey but it was worth it.”
Ayres has been a regular on the PDC Challenge Tour since 2018, having previously played in eight events in 2016, along with the odd appearance in BDO ranking events, and last year narrowly missed out on winning a tour card at Q-School, reaching the last 16 on the final day.
“I was absolutely gutted,” Ayres said. “I had a really good run on the last day, but it was missing out on an extra couple of points in the first three days which ended up costing me.
“It was another learning curve for me, playing the calibre of players that are there and it was just good to be amongst that type of player and testing yourself against them.”
A few weeks after his Q-School disappointment, Ayres entered the now-defunct UK Open Qualifiers, where he brushed shoulders with some of the PDC’s top names, including Peter Wright and Vincent van der Voort.
“That was absolutely brilliant,” he said. “I was sat on the same table as Peter Wright and another guy Simon Preston, who introduced me to Peter, and we ended up drawing each other.
“I was still star struck. I think I went 4-1 up and went to myself ‘oh my god I can’t believe it’ and then he just stepped it up another gear and kicked on.
“It was great to mix it with that type of player, the same with the game against Vincent. It was a great experience and it’s the dream to play them players week in week out.
“Q-School is the massive target. Between now and then I’ve got the Challenge Tour and a few BDO competitions.
“After that it will be practicing hard to be in the best possible way for Q-School. That’s the biggest target, to try and get that tour card.”
Listen to episode 118 of the Weekly Dartscast podcast with special guests Rowby-John Rodriguez, Luke Humphries, Arron Monk and Mandy Solomons via the player below