Last dance up for grabs – you can’t turn back the clock

In one of his autobiographies, Tony McCoy told a story about the Aintree National won by Red Marauder. The ground at the Liverpool venue was bottomless, with the result that when The Champ and another rider – possibly Mick Fitzgerald – were unseated from their mounts they realised they were in fact the only ones still going. Thus, they decided to remount – this was at a time before the snowflakes got too much of a hold on the world – and garner whatever prizemoney was on the go for placed horses.

It’s that hardnosed competitive edge which sorts the wheat from the chaff in top level sport. In a different way, it separates the showmen – or women – from the show stoppers. For example, while the entertaining antics of Dimitri van den Bergh and Devin Pietersen will undoubtedly be missed, it boils down to the fact that when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of the day job, in both cases they dropped short.

Hence we have seen the further germination in the careers of stars on the up such as Callan Rydz, Willie O’Connor, Luke Humphries, Chris Dobey or a complete newcomer such as Alan Souter of Scotland

What the emergence and/or further development of some of those mentioned above has done, consequently, is cast some of the oldest swingers in town off like chaff in the wind. Top of the latter list must be Raymond Van Barneveld, but he has been far from alone in that sense. Brendan Dolan, Simon Whitlock, Adrian Lewis and Glen Durrant are among those whose diaries will now be unexpectedly clear after Christmas.

Champ in waiting? Jonny Clayton

But then, whoever pulls the levers in the control tower above works in mysterious ways. Never closing one door without opening another. Logic and indeed all known form would indictate that the current holder Gerwyn Price is more likely to hold onto the Sid Waddel Trophy as anybody is liable to relieve him of it.

Two factors may derail such an outcome. Very often these major sporting events deviate from the perceived expected script, and secondly, one of the very few players to usurp ‘The Iceman’ was in fact his compatriot Clayton. Without doubt the most improved player in world darts at present.

Granted, there are obviously others with equally genuine claims on the trophy which honours the undisputed voice of darts. The current and three previous holders thereof chief among them.

However, if a firearm was lurking in the general vicinity of one’s temple I would wager Bread Of Heaven will reverberate around the Palace come January 3rd. For which one? Toss a coin!

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