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Warragul Harness Racing Club officials are confident a big crowd will attend the annual Warragul Cup trots meeting, on Easter Sunday afternoon at Logan Park. Enquiries to the Club and early interest in the event through social media have been very strong, and a value packed day of family friendly entertainment should lure one of the biggest crowds in recent years through the turnstiles. Warragul Harness Racing Club CEO Mark Johnson, who took over the role last December, has developed some new promotional ideas for Easter Sunday's meeting, in addition to some traditional favourites. Johnson said the Club is pleased to offer free entry to all patrons on the day, to encourage as many people as possible to attend the event. A free "Kids Zone" containing an interactive reptile and wildlife display, face painting, balloon art, jumping castle, merry go round and kid's arts and crafts will be available, while the first 250 children through the gates will receive a free Meal voucher, which can be redeemed from one of the many food & drink outlets on the day, including some of Melbourne's favorite Street Food trucks which are part of this year's cup carnival. A giant Easter Egg giveaway will also be held during the afternoon. For the adults, the Downtowner Tavern Bar and McGrath Foundation Champagne Marquee will prove popular - Fashions on the Field will be conducted from the Champagne Marquee during the day with a great array of prizes on offer. The McGrath foundation will also be using the day as a fundraiser for their very worthy cause. There will also be plenty of giveaways for lucky patrons, along with a major raffle and a Punters Club during the meeting. A giant screen located in the centre of the track will display the day's events to the outside audience, while inside the main pavilion, a new large screen has been installed to give patrons the best view of local and interstate race telecasts. Live music from DJ Nige & Kombi will entertain patrons with lots of giveaways between races, as will the ever-popular pony trot races. The eight race card will be headlined by the $30,325 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup, again sponsored by the Warragul Sporting and Social Club. An excellent support program is highlighted by the $12,575 Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, sponsored by Norm & Glenda Sherar and a heat of the Vicbred Platinum Mares Sprint Championships worth $10,325. There will be extra food and drink outlets and betting facilities will operate in anticipation of a big crowd, and there is plenty of lawn area for patrons to relax with a picnic lunch, although no BYO alcohol is permitted. Gates open at Noon on Easter Sunday, with plenty of off street parking and further enquiries can be made to the Warragul Harness Racing Club on (03) 5622 2008. NEW OWNERS ROOM TO BE LAUNCHED ON CUP DAY Harness racing participants will be well looked after with the creation of a new Owners Room facility at Warragul trots meetings. The Warragul Harness Racing Club's new Owners Room will be launched at the Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup meeting on Easter Sunday. Located in the horse stalls area, the Owners Room will be a place where owners of competing horses will be able to gather and enjoy the raceday. Two large screen TV's will provide coverage of all racing events, plus replays of Warragul races. A display of some of Warragul Harness Racing Club's collection of memorabilia will also adorn the walls of the renovated room. The Owners Room overlooks the stalls area, and parade ring, so that participants can view their horses before each race, particularly in wet weather. Designed and funded by the Warragul Harness Racing Club with the assistance of Harness Racing Victoria, the Owners Room concept is part of an industry wide push to enhance the experience for standardbred owners at race meetings. Popular WHRC committeeman and horse owner Barry Field will host visitors to the new Owners Room on Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup day. The WHRC is proud to be able to provide such a facility for owners, the next stage in enhancing facilities at the Warragul Pacing Bowl after a significant upgrade to the race track in 2014. On Easter Sunday, Harness Racing Victoria's Ownership Marquee will also be located on course, near the Owners Room, so that prospective industry participants can find out more information on how to become involved. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre will also provide information relating to their course opportunities in 2016.   Kyle Galley

Gippsland harness racing teenager Jasmyn Fusinato will compete in two Pony Trot races at the Warragul Pacing Cup meeting on Easter Sunday, March 27. Jasmyn, 13, recently began driving in pony events with her horse Shorty. She has competed in events at Ballarat and Cranbourne and will line up on her home track for both races on Easter Sunday, which are conducted between the main harness events run during the day. Pony trotting has a great following in Victoria and interstate, and traditionally many adult horsemen and women got their start in pony events as children. Competitors can participate in pony events until they turn 16, when they become eligible to apply for a race driver licence.   Fifteen years ago there were up to a dozen youngsters from West Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley competing in pony trot events, however since those children became too old, or their families drifted away from trotting, the region has not had a driver in pony races. Jasmyn has been practicing with Shorty for some time, at her parents home in Warragul and at the Warragul Pacing Bowl. Her family has a strong connection to trotting - Jasmyn's father Greg and grandparents John and Kath breed and race horses, and the trotting bug has obviously rubbed off.   The skills Jasmyn picks up in pony racing may allow her to one day drive in professional races, following in the footsteps of former local horsewoman Jodi Quinlan.   Competitors from across the state will attend the Warragul Cup meeting for the pony events, according to Pony Trots Victoria. The children and their horses will also dress up for an Easter Bonnet parade during the afternoon, and will compete for trophies provided by the Warragul and District Light Harness Club. Easter Sunday's race meeting features the Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup for the big horses, being run this year for a record stake of over $30,000, and the Eddie Evison Memorial Warragul Trotters Cup. Kyle Galley

Yarragon harness racing trainer Rob Evans had the historians reaching for the record books after his horse Into You led throughout to win at the Warragul Pacing Bowl last Tuesday afternoon. The general feeling was that it had been a few years since Rob's previous winner as a trainer - and a look back at the results showed a lull of over three decades. Rob had last tasted success thirty one years (and four days) before - when his horse Tara Wealth won the Darley Grange Beginners Pace at Warragul on January 15, 1985. Although it has been an extremely long time between drinks for Rob, he has spent much of that time away from the trotting sport. It has only been in the last 18 months that he has returned to training, taking his time with four-year-old pacer Into You, who rewarded his patience with her first win on Tuesday. The lightly raced mare possibly should have won before Tuesday, having turned in a few good minor placings in her short career. An improving type, Into You should win further races, ensuring her trainer won't have to wait too long for his next taste of success. Rob prepares his horse from a training track he constructed on the property of fellow horseman Rob Trickey, across the road from the Yarragon Football Ground. Into You is the first horse to be trained on the relatively new track. The track design skills of Rob Evans have attracted interest among local trotting participants - he is currently constructing a new training track on the property of Drouin West horseman Gary Quinlan, to be built along the lines of the recently redeveloped Warragul Pacing Bowl track. The eight events on Tuesday produced plenty of success for Gippsland trainers. Trafalgar trotter Lazy Sunday claimed an overdue first race win in a division of the Trotters Handicap for the Hunter family. Glenn Hunter took the reins for his brother Brett, the mares owner, and their trainer father Chris. Young Gippsland horseman Matt Cormick also returned to the winners' list when Mor Laag scored its third win from 62 starts in race four. Matt drove numerous winners as a junior reinsman, before taking a break from the sport. He has recently returned to racing and prepared Mor Laag, owned by his grandfather, veteran trainer Des Kelly, to the horse's first victory since July 2014.   Mor Laag had trialled well at Warragul recently in preparation for the seven-year-olds first race since November. Cranbourne trained pacers performed well at the meeting with Rocknroll Gold winning the first race for trainer Michael Hughes, and Fiftyshadesofbrown turning in another honest performance to win a division of the Trotters Handicap for trainer Allan Lousada. Terang horseman Darren Cole made a long trip across to compete - he was impressed with the Warragul facilities and the journey home was a happy one after Spot Ona Shadow won the fifth event. Accountability scored in the Claiming Pace for Bacchus Marsh trainer Denis Grieve and driver Zac Phillips. Drouin West mare Ymbro Toto continued her good run at Warragul with another victory in the last race. The mare won at the previous Warragul meeting in December for owner Danny Ymer and trainer Gary Quinlan. Guests of the Warragul Harness Racing Club on Tuesday included members of the Donvale Tunstall Probus Club. Harness racing at Warragul takes a break now in preparation for the Warragul Cup meeting on Easter Sunday, March 27. Kyle Galley

Warragul Harness Racing and Greyhound Clubs will run five race meetings in one week later in January.   Harness racing will be staged at Warragul on Tuesday afternoon, January 19 from 1pm for a school holiday meeting. Local horses will have their final runs before the next Warragul meet at Cranbourne this Tuesday night (12th), where a strong contingent of Gippsland horses will be looking to keep the prize money at home. District pacers dominate the entries in the first race on Tuesday night - veteran Melton Little Max (trainer Allan Preston) comes up with the ideal draw of barrier one, while Trafalgar pacer Bettor Biaggi (trained by Tamie Frith) was not far away last time and draws barrier two. Drouin West horse Most Happy Cullen returns from a spell in the second event for a local syndicate - the Gary Quinlan trained pacer has won two recent barrier trials on his home track at Warragul. Gary Quinlan has three other horses racing on the night - Omy Son, Toscas Delight and Queen of Pop. Yarragon pacer Into You (trainer Rob Evans) gave a good sight in front at its most recent run, however the horse galloped and finished fifth. Driver Neil McCallum reported he felt the horse had clipped the sulky wheel which caused it to gallop, so that excuse and a good barrier draw on Tuesday give the mare a definite chance again. Sammy Seelster, for Trafalgar trainer Glenn Hunter, is also a value chance from a good barrier draw in the last event.   Kyle Galley

Local horses scored most of the wins at the well attended Warragul harness racing meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Longwarry trainer Lee Evison collected two race wins for a host of happy owners - with Expectagrin which scored its first race victory, and the talented pacer Mister Wickham. Fellow Gippsland horseman Gary Quinlan was also in the winners' circle on the program with Ymbro Toto, which led throughout in her victory, giving ace reinsman Greg Sugars a driving double. Veteran Croydon horseman Mario Stella has long supported Warragul's meetings, and made the trip across a successful one when he landed a double with Feel The Buzz (driven by Matt Ablett) and Greenough (Zac Phillips). Clyde trainer Jayne Davies was another local to collect a victory with Mister Clooney in race eight when driven by Chris Alford. Melton couple Maree and John Caldow combined to win the Gippsland Business Centre Pace with Art Mistress, defeating locals Sahara Sunrise and Fairest Fella. John Caldow accepted a trophy on behalf of the race sponsors, who held their Christmas break-up at the trots. After the race Caldow claimed the Warragul track as "the best little track around", given the work undertaken to enhance the condition of the track surface and camber in recent times. Veteran Bendigo horseman Brian Gath had his first drive at Warragul for some time, and landed victory with Aitutaki. Gath also praised the quality of the revamped Warragul track after the race, saying that while the track has always been of good quality, the renovation works undertaken 12 months ago have taken the course to another level. Trainer/driver Lisa Miles bought home Tiavons Dream to a narrow victory in the Trotters Handicap - the square gaiters turned in a great exhibition of faultless trotting which was well received by the crowd. Wednesday's raceday introduced plenty of new people to trotting and there was a great atmosphere on track. Strong entries produced nine races with competitors coming from far and wide for a quality program. Warragul Harness Racing Club officials will be hoping to repeat the success at their next raceday on Tuesday afternoon, January 19.   Kyle Galley

A big day of harness racing is planned for Warragul this coming Wednesday. There were enough entries for nine races, with the first to run at 1:14pm, and the last due just after 6pm. A number of local businesses are taking advantage of the meeting to hold their Christmas break-up functions, and the Warragul Harness Racing Club expects a big attendance given the forecast fine weather conditions. Star local pacer Mister Wickham is drawn to compete during the day, depending on the outcome of his race tomorrow night (Saturday) at Melton. Drouin West trainer Gary Quinlan will be well represented on the day with four starters, including Ymbro Toto, a mare which has had her issues but is expected to turn in a good performance this time around. Races look fairly even throughout the day, particularly the third event, where the winner could be well hidden. Veteran local pacer Melton Little Max, lining up for race start 247, could be a chance of victory if things go his way from an awkward barrier draw. Local horseman Rob Evans has his first starter on his home track for many years when Into You contests race one, at just her second race start. There is free entry to all patrons at Wednesday's raceday. Kyle Galley

Students of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre celebrated a year of achievement at their Graduation Dinner held in Warragul last weekend. Around 70 people attended the night at Danny's the Venue, with several awards presented to some of the graduate students from the Certificate and VCAL programs. Award winners on the night were: Mariah Lakeman (Warragul and District Light Harness Club Student of the Year), Paul Alsberg (Warragul Harness Racing Club Achiever Award), Tayla Wells (Angelique Club Award), Judy Smith (Pakenham Produce Award), Montana McStay and Rhiana Mumford (Community College Gippsland Awards). For the first time, organisers have introduced an award in memory of the late Dani Lewis, the popular local trainer/driver who was a past graduate of the Centre.   The Dani Lewis Memorial medal was presented by Dani's mother, Donna, and was won by Abby Orchard. The year just completed has been a most successful one for the Centre, with record enrolment numbers and support from within the industry, and the highlight on track being a winning double at Cranbourne, which has enabled the Centre to purchase a state-of-the-art Dooza racing sulky. GHTC co-ordinator Jenni Lewis announced at the Graduation Dinner that a Scholarship will be awarded in 2016, to allow one graduate from the Centre an opportunity to turn their skills and knowledge into a career in the trotting industry. The Scholarship comes together courtesy of the generous support of Harness Racing Victoria, and Community College Gippsland, the Centre's educational provider. Kyle Galley

The first anniversary of harness racing on the revamped Warragul Pacing Bowl saw two track records broken at a well attended meeting on Monday afternoon. The Chris Alford trained and driven Tabanan recorded a blistering rate of 1:54.8 for 1790 metres in the fifth event, an almost unheard of performance on a half-mile circuit such as Warragul.   Earlier, Montu broke the 2210 metre time record, rating 1:57.8 in a rough race for trainer Ross Sugars and his reinswoman daughter Kylie Sugars. Race times were fast all day, in part due to the dry and warm weather conditions, but also due to the quality of the new racing surface, which keeps improving all the time. In the final race of the day, Trafalgar pacer Live In Doubt swept down the outside to score a narrow, last stride win for trainer driver Glenn Hunter. Live In Doubt was equal winner of the most consistent Horse of the Year at Warragul two years ago, and has begun this racing season at the Warragul Pacing Bowl in fine style. Highlight of the afternoon was the four race winning haul to driver Chris Alford - Gonski, Miracle, Tabanan and Bay Tint, which places Alford at an early advantage in the battle for this season's drivers premiership at Warragul. Local horseman Michael Hughes also landed a win, with Rocknroll Gold collecting his first victory for a big syndicate of local owners. This victory was the first leg of a driving double for reinsman Nathan Jack. During the afternoon the most consistent performers for the last season of racing at Warragul were honoured with awards, including leading trainer Jayne Davies, reinsman Greg Sugars and junior reinsman Josh Duggan. Locally owned and trained trotter Stoned Again was the most successful Horse of the Year for last season, with delighted connections enjoying the club's hospitality during the afternoon. Popular club Manager Alison McDougal was also farewelled during the afternoon, having chosen a change in direction after 18 months with the trotting sport. Racing returns to Warragul just before Christmas on Wednesday, December 23, with the hospitality area on-course almost fully booked already for end-of-year celebrations. Kyle Galley

An eight race program signals the return of harness racing to Warragul after a couple of months this Monday afternoon.   As usual, entry is free for patrons and the first race will commence at 1:18pm. In conjunction with the program, winners of last season's Warragul racing awards will be honoured. Driver of the Year (Greg Sugars), Junior Driver of the Year (Josh Duggan) and Trainer of the Year (Jayne Davies) will be in attendance, along with connections of the most successful Horse of the Year, trotter Stoned Again. The horse will also compete on the day, in a race named in his honour. Monday's card features several locally trained horses, and caps off a busy few days for local trotting followers - the Gippsland Harness Training Centre holds their 2015 graduation dinner this Saturday night.   Kyle Galley

Well known trots fan Steve "Pogga" Salter has jumped on board as a sponsor of the Warragul Harness Racing Club for their new harness racing season which commences on Monday afternoon, November 30. Steve's popular poggaharness.com tipping website has a legion of followers, and he is sponsoring the new Lucky Longshot Award to be decided across Warragul's nine meetings. The trainer of the longest priced winner for the season at Warragul, based on the SuperTAB starting price, will receive $250 cash courtesy of poggaharness.com The racebook at each Warragul meeting will contain the name and starting price of the contest leader, and those interested will be able to keep track of the outcome of the contest throughout the season on Warragul's award-winning social media outlets. Poggaharness.com became involved in trots sponsorship when they purchased naming rights to Warragul's feature Traralgon Pacing Cup two years ago, and since then, Steve and his website have become well known throughout the industry. Warragul Harness Racing Club is pleased to have Steve and his website back involved where it all began, and is looking forward to seeing which horse and trainer take out the Lucky Longshot title this season.   Kyle Galley

Three major trotting awards were secured by locals at the annual Victorian Harness Racing Industry awards ceremony held at Melton last Sunday night. Warragul Harness Racing Club won Club of the Year from venues which conduct less than 16 race meetings annually. And long standing Gippsland stalwart Vera Miller received the Victorian Country Clubs Association Volunteer Achiever Award, in recognition of her two decades of service to the sport at Warragul. Pearcedale pacer Hectorjayjay, winner of the Warragul Cup at Easter, was voted Victorian Four-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. Adding to the haul of awards, Warragul Harness Racing Club last Friday won a national Merit Award for their efforts in promoting local trotting on social media. This worthy success is a great boost to the local trotting industry as the opening race meeting of the 2015/2016 Warragul trots season approaches on November 30. Kyle Galley    

Two well known names in Gippsland trotting were among those honoured at last night's harness racing industry Hall of Fame gala event. Talented harness racing horseman Keith Raw, a name largely forgotten in recent years, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. A great supporter of trotting at Warragul, Keith prepared his horses from his Opal Lodge property off Stud Road in Scoresby, well before the area became part of outer suburbia. He drove the 1960 Warragul Cup winner, Pacific Beauty, for trainer Ron Whee, before collecting a second Cup with his own smart horse, Alipes, in 1974. Keith was considered a master horseman in his time - he prepared champion juvenile pacer Opal Chief in the early 1960s, and trained more two-year-old race winners in Melbourne during the 1960s than any other horseman. He won three Warragul driver's premierships, and his horse Corrinne Jay won the first Warragul Horse of the Year award in the late 1970s. Bernie Blackshaw, a member of the famous Gippsland racing family, was honoured with a Certificate of Merit for his extended service to the trotting sport. Bernie, now based in Wangaratta, and his family have enjoyed great success as trainers and breeder of horses over more than 30 years. Among the other award winners on the night with a connection to Warragul were: the Shinn family, who have competed at Warragul meetings since Hubert Shinn won the main race at the opening Warragul meeting in 1939, Lance Justice (2002 Warragul Cup winner) and Vin Knight (1985 Warragul Cup winner). The Hall of Fame is administered yearly by the Victorian Harness Racing Media Association.   Kyle Galley

The hard working staff and students of the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre were rewarded for their efforts with not one, but two winners at last Sunday night's Cranbourne meeting. Mystic Castle, driven by Jodi Quinlan, appreciated a good barrier draw in winning the third race. Just over half an hour later, the celebrations went into overdrive when Break A Wrist, with Lisa Miles in the sulky, claimed a narrow victory in the fourth event. Mystic Castle and Break A Wrist both collected their first wins in the process, and it was the first double for the Centre, and for horse trainer and Centre co-ordinator Jenni Lewis. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre is administered by Community College Gippsland and the Warragul and District Light Harness Club, and operates from facilities at the Warragul harness race track. Established in 1997, the Centre is currently overseeing a record enrolment of students who learn all aspects of the training and education of horses in a racing stable environment.   Longwarry pacer Ymbro Toto was another local winner on the program for trainer Lee Evison.   The horse was also driven by Jodi Quinlan, one of four winning drives for Jodi at the meeting.   Kyle Galley

Gippsland horse Professor Tom won a consolation of the rich Breeders Crown series at the harness racing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton last Friday night. Bred and owned by long serving Warragul Harness Racing Club committeeman Grant Rathjen, Professor Tom finished strongly to win. The two-year-old is trained by Drouin West's Gary and Debbie Quinlan and was driven by Gavin Lang. Professor Tom is out of the Rathjen family's former brilliant race mare Petes Dream. On Sunday afternoon another Gippsland bred, Our Waikiki Beach, extended its winning sequence to 12 in capturing the Colts and Geldings Final. Bred locally by the Fusinato family, and trained and owned in New Zealand, Our Waikiki Beach heads home undefeated in his first season of racing. Our Waikiki Beach is from the Fusinato's top mare Cyclone Betty. Pearcedale pacer Hectorjayjay, winner of the Warragul Cup earlier this year, won the Entires and Geldings feature, while Cranbourne horse Cruisin Around ran third in the trotting Colts and Geldings Final. These and other horses trained in the region look set to produce an exciting future for Gippsland harness racing.   Kyle Galley

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and captain Scott Pendlebury are among the 14 owners of pacer Stone Of Destiny, which bought up its first win at the harness racing meeting at Warragul on Monday afternoon. Although the pair weren't on track for the race, several other members of the Raceapacer Syndicate, along with the group's jovial Manager Mark Hoare, were trackside for the event.   Mark has helped operate syndicates successfully for over 20 years in trotting and gallops, introducing many new owners to racing. Stone Of Destiny is trained by die-hard Collingwood fan Jayne Davies, and was driven by Chris Alford. As well as nearly $4000 in prizemoney for Monday's win, a first win bonus of $7000 will also be well received by connections. Chris Alford drove two winners on the card - his first win was with Blacktie Lightning earlier in the day. Trained near Ballarat by Chris Lang Junior, Blacktie Lightning was most impressive in scoring, and the win was timely for Lang and his partner Haley Toulmin, who announced their engagement last weekend. Stoned Again scored a popular win in the Trotters Handicap, and claimed the Warragul Horse of the Year title in the process. Owners of the horse also sponsored the event, giving them the extra thrill of winning their own race. The win also capped off a great season at Warragul for trainer Bill Walker and driver Simone Walker. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double at the meeting - with Tenacious One and Ideal Diamante both scoring impressive wins. Bushrod won race seven for trainer/driver Alison Chisholm, while trainer Ahmed Taiba and driver Greg Sugars combined to win the fourth event with Rock Of America, which flashed home down the outside of the track to win in a close finish. Melton pacer Electric Ollie won the second event - the visitors won most of the races on Monday over the local trainers. Monday's meeting rounded out the racing season at Warragul, with the next raceday now not until November 30 when the first anniversary of the Warragul track reopening takes place. The quality of the Warragul track has improved out of sight with the changes that have taken place over the last 12 months. Stewards at Monday's meeting commented on the quality of the track given the amount of rain received in the lead-up to the meeting. With the improvements to the track has come increased interest from trainers along with better quality and faster racing, justifying the money spent on the project last year.   Kyle Galley

Wintry conditions kept many spectators away from Monday's Warragul trots meeting, but races were still keenly contested despite the chill.   Warragul's new racing circuit passed its first wet day of racing since last year's rebuild with flying colours - despite plenty of rain over the previous couple of days the surface was turned out in excellent condition. In the second race, the KC Racing Trotters Handicap, Pearcedale horse Stoned Again lowered the track record for 2210 metres, taking one-and-a-half seconds off the previous mark set in December last year. Stoned Again, for father-daughter combination Bill and Simone Walker, has moved to the lead in the Warragul Horse of the Year award with one race meeting remaining in the current racing season. Rick Cashman, a past graduate of the Gippsland Harness Training Centre, won a race on the day with Danman. At just its second race start, Danman led throughout - the horse will derive great benefit from the victory and should win more races. Danman's win was one of three on the afternoon for top reinsman Greg Sugars, who also won with first starter Ravello Rock in race one for Jayne Davies, and Almihata in the third event for Ahmed Taiba. Ahmed himself collected two winners on the day, when Admiral Joy rattled home to win the final event when driven by junior reinsman Troy McDonald. Jodi Quinlan produced a popular victory with Decorated Lady in race four, for a big syndicate of owners.   Several of them were trackside, loudly cheering the horse every step of the way down the home straight. Another popular win was that of Jean Baptiste in the seventh event for Melton trainer Lance Justice, and driver Jason Hackett. Jean Baptiste is raced by a nine-member syndicate, and was well supported in betting. Trotting returns to Warragul on Monday, August 17.   Kyle Galley  

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