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Big E... The Fairest Of The Fairs

by Bob Funkhouser

W. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - One of the great traditions of the Saddle Horse, Hackney and Morgan worlds trying to survive in today’s world, the Eastern States Horse Show again did what it does gave exhibitors a built in audience that truly appreciates their performances. The Big E Coliseum was not just a place for mom and pop to stop and relax, the seats and railside were filled with spectators pointing, oohing and ahhing with the sights of champion horses, ponies and riders. Several thousand others over the course of September 17-21 viewed the exhibitors outside as they warmed up and on the wash racks just off the main barn.

You couldn’t afford to buy the amount of exposure that the breeds received as parents brought little children up to the wash racks and to the fence at the make-up ring to ask questions about the horses. The smart exhibitors, and there were many, took time to share information about their horses and let children pat them. These high powered show horses were putting lots of smiles on the faces of children and adults alike. Those people walked away knowing up close and personal what an American Saddlebred, a Morgan and a Hackney were.

However, this show is not for the faint hearted. It does require a little bit of effort on the part of the exhibitor and somehow in today’s remote control, instant access society, a little effort is too much to ask. Most of the area shows are like going to the barn at home. You can pull right up to the barn and watch your horse perform with a few of your friends hanging around. The only difference is riders are dressed up and it costs money to perform in front of your friends.

Eastern States provides an overwhelming feeling of “HORSE SHOW.” There is atmosphere. There is an arena to ride into that actually has noise above that of the organ player as large numbers of people cheer pass after pass. There is also the cleanest and nicest fair in the country with many, many options for those in the family that get dragged along to the horse show but don’t really want to be there. What is there not to like?

“People are really missing the boat here,” said Morgan exhibitor Sue Caisse. “We’ve won a good deal of prize money, great ribbons and trophies, and how exciting to show in front of these people.”

Manager Jim LaHood and show coordinator Carol Keller were again at the helm. They have worked hand in hand with the exhibitors to try and make the show as accommodating as possible. New for this year were the electronic scoreboard at the end of the arena which listed the entries in the class and then posted the class winner for all to see. In addition, this year’s exhibitor’s party was moved to a hospitality tent which was set up right outside of the main barn. Great food and live music were available to all exhibitors and then the annual ESHBA auction was held.

Certainly not new, the Brookmont Manor party held in the Brooks Building following the Thursday evening session was again a big hit. Many different food selections were passed around to guests highlighted by bowl after bowl of succulent shrimp. This all went with the open bar and great socializing.

Nancy Becker was brought in to judge all three divisions which started out extremely slow on the first night. By the weekend the classes were extremely respectable and competitive. Helping the show greatly were the equitation finals held by the New England Horseman’s Council and the Eastcoast Equitation Event, as well as the many New England Amateur Championships.

“We were about the same as last year,” said manager LaHood. “We lost a few barns but we also welcomed a couple of new barns.”

With all the worry about Hurricane Isabel hitting the east coast, Massachusetts escaped with only some heavy rain storms throughout most of the morning and early afternoon on Friday, but before and after it was absolutely beautiful, particularly for the Sunday afternoon championship session.

Eastern States, like a few other shows, holds its amateur championships on the last session and this year’s amateur riders gave the good sized Sunday afternoon crowd plenty to cheer about. Five entries competed for the Amateur Five-Gaited Championship which brought the 2003 Big E to a close. Newcomer Sally Gallagher had the time of her life riding Callaway’s Rhapsody In Blue to the tricolor streamers. Owned by Narotam Singh Grewal, Rhapsody In Blue also carried Gallagher to the blue in the amateur qualifier. Rocking Horse Farm’s Showcases Dream Machine was reserve in both cases with Sharon Alemian riding in the qualifier and Kaitlyn Alemian getting the call in the championship round.

One of several additions made to Eastern States by manager Jim LaHood and his staff has been the New England Championships which are open to amateur riders. Horses must be shown at two New England shows to qualify for these high profile championships which pay well and award many nice trophies.

The sensation of New England all year long, Diamond Flight brought home the silver to Revelation Farm in the New England Five-Gaited Championship with Bob Moseder taking their picture in the winner’s circle. Terry Stephenson had Kaitlyn Grom and Diamond Flight primed and ready for the competition. Knocking on the door with a strong show themselves, Timothy Lydon and Oz were called out by announcer Jason Gates for reserve honors, while Rick Daigle gave My Hatteras his last ride in the gaited division taking a good third.

Grom and Diamond Flight weren’t finished with just the New England Championship, they came back on Saturday night to claim their third Five-Gaited Championship in this building this year. Coming from the winner’s circle of the Junior/Novice Five-Gaited class, Kristen Spann and Callaway’s Whirligig represented the ladies of Cricket Hill with the Five-Gaited Reserve Grand Championship for Donald and Kristen Spann. With a little in-house competition among the genders at Cricket Hill, David Cater and You’ve Got Mail finished behind Spann and Callaway’s Whirligig, much to the delight of Cricket Hill ladies. Michael Richardson had ridden You’ve Got Mail to the blue in the open class, placing ahead of Darlene Trento Wright and Cameo Appearance.

Kaitlyn Grom went four for four in the gaited division as she also rode Miss Marian to two uncontested titles in the junior exhibitor division.

At some point in time the Big E Coliseum might have to be renamed the “Mr. Snuffleupagus Big E Coliseum” as there hasn’t been another horse come close to making the number of victory passes he has made in that building, particularly at the Eastern States show. Under the direction of Roger Kearney at Smoke Hollow Farm, amateur qualifying winners CH Mr. Snuffleupagus and Doreen Weston were the Amateur Three-Gaited Grand Champions and the crowd absolutely loved him. Representing High Tail Acres, Ann Rowland rode A Winter’s Tale to his second reserve title.

Rowland and A Winter’s Tale were also reserve in the New England Three-Gaited Championship, but this time it was behind Kaitlyn Grom and Mega Volt. They were super charged to bring yet another New England Championship home to Revelation Farm.

Just as she did with Diamond Flight in the gaited division, Grom took Mega Volt from the New England Championship and returned for the Three-Gaited Grand Championship to take the top honors there as well. The Terry Stephenson trained team defeated three other teams for the title including reserve grand champions CH Jane Doe and Doreen Weston.

In the open class Phoenix Stable’s Kevin Tomasko had ridden Kansai to the blue prize for Ellen Kipp. Jane Doe was reserve in this one as well.

Unlike the gaited division there were several junior exhibitor walk-trot entries providing for two competitive rounds. Seven teams competed for the championship but none were better than the veteran team of Caitlyn Wendy Spring and CH Sergeant Royalty. It was their second victory pass of the week. The new combination of Tara Grom and Heir Popper claimed reserve honors in both events, with Dawn Juan and Lauren Pyes taking third in the championship and Jessica MacLeod and CH Carerra placing third in the qualifier.

Jan Lukens introduced Hi-Views Sharp Charm Lady to win the Junior/Novice Three-Gaited class for Joellen Fisher-Blount. Lillian Gilpin rode Titleist Entertainer to the red ribbon for Sharon Alemian.

It was a banner week for Cricket Hill Farm and part of that success came in the park division in which David Cater expertly guided Little Cindy Lou Who to the Three-Gaited Park Championship and open class blue. She was quite the star for the Spann family. Mr. Machine and Darlene Trento-Wright moved up three places from the qualifier to take reserve grand champion honors. Sally Eichlin and CH Albelarm Tradition were the reserve winners in the qualifier.

Jan Lukens' entries won both amateur park classes although they were two different horses. One of New England’s best park teams all season long, Cajin Martini and Paula Percoco were right on the money to take the Amateur Three-Gaited Park Championship. Their athletic performance topped a strong field of contenders including twice reserve winners Doreen Weston and Sagaman. Qualifying winners Revelation’s Amazing Grace and Audrey Pade slipped to third in the championship.

Shamrock’s Irishman was the name to remember in the fine harness division; he won three different classes with owner Elizabeth McCracken at the whip. Trained by Todd Mathieson, Shamrock’s Irishman won the championship, open class and amateur class, but there were three different reserve winners. Midnight’s Valley Girl was the reserve grand champion with Nicholas Villa driving for Joanne Saunders. Bob Beede had two reserve trips, one in the open class with The Magic Touch and one in the amateur class with It’s All There.

There were several nice road ponies on hand for the 2003 edition of the Big E. Yet another championship ribbon returned to the Revelation Farm tack room with Chelsea Simon driving Whims & Wishes to the championship after also taking the top money in the New England Road Pony Championship. Reserve grand champion honors went to Yianni Barakos and Dreams & Schemes, reserve winners of the open class under the direction of Brook Sweigart.

Eighty plus years old, Lewis Levin still has the driving touch. He placed two winning ribbons on the Somersdream tack room as he was in the silks for Dream Boy’s Magic’s two wins in the amateur road pony division. Randall Foltz and Classic Dreams applied the pressure both times as the reserve champions.

The team of William Silber and Heartland City Boy have become mighty hard to beat. They were tuned to perfection as their performances indicated in the UPHA Road Pony Classic and the Junior/Novice Road Pony class. They greatly added to the long string of winning ribbons hanging from the blue and green drapes of Cricket Hill Farm. Brook Sweigart and Mt View’s Sunrise Surprise took home the reserve money in the UPHA Classic as did Rodney Hicks and Rhythm King LF in the junior/novice class.

Keeping the division alive, Caroline Morrison drove Dick Francis to the Roadster To Bike Championship and open class while representing Fairfield South.

Most of the New England pony people were gathered on the grounds of Eastern States. Many in that group go way back to the days when this was a “Society Show” and one of the best in the country at that. Rodney Hicks presented Mark Of Elegance to win the Harness Pony Championship and qualifying blue for Ann Hailey. Her extremely athletic performance topped another big-time performer, Sir Galahad. Driven by Janine LaSalle for David and Janine LaSalle, Sir Galahad was fresh from the winner’s circle of the New England Harness Pony Championship in which Irene York and Crescendo’s Spellbound where reserve.

Darlene Trento-Wright and Picabo Street were twice champions, winning the Junior/Novice Harness Pony class and the UPHA Harness Pony Classic for Maureen Quackenbush. Again, Irene York and Crescendo’s Spellbound were reserve. Always strong supporters of the pony division, Bud and Janet Lavio sent A Fine Affair to the winner’s circle in the Amateur Harness Pony class with Bud at the whip.

Competition was good in the cob-tail division as four entries entertained for the championship. Getting legged up for Toronto, Totally Excellent was totally the champion, winning his third class of the week under the direction of Rodney Hicks. Betty Roden was at the whip to win the Hackney Pony Championship and the New England Hackney Pony Championship, while husband Nathan had the winning drive in the amateur class. Returning to the show ring, Grace Brooks Knibb drove the multi-titled Silver and Gold to reserve honors in both the amateur class and the grand championship. Dawn DelTorchio and Model Of Excellence captured the reserve prize in the New England Championship.

The Light family’s breeding program was evident at Big E with Romeo’s Warrior LF and Rodney Hicks winning the UPHA Hackney Pony Classic for Marjorie Kenney and partners. Romeo’s Copycat LF and Janine LaSalle topped the Junior/Novice Hackney Pony class, beating out Frank Hester and Mark Of Recognition for the honors.

Seven entries filed through gate in quest of the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship and what a group of ponies it was. All show pony, Lincolnshire’s Royal Cavalier paraded as the grand champion with Janet Crawford Hicks at the whip. This new combination started the week winning the UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Classic. Mary Cichowski and Steal The Show collected the reserve grand champion honors placing ahead of AHHS Medallion winners Lilly Birch and Oh Happy Day.

Fresh off their reserve world’s champion drive at Louisville, Irene York and Megabucks were sharp as could be to win the Open Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony class as well as the highly competitive New England Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship. Always looking the part, Courtney Cahill and Sky Image were reserve grand champions in the New England class, while the fancy team of Heartland Foxy Dancer and Sandy Coombs took reserve in the open class. Reserve money was also awarded to Thomas Quackenbush and Mavado Masterpiece in the UPHA Classic.

It’s great to see Ann Jones back in the show ring and she took full advantage of the opportunity winning the Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship and qualifier with Callaway’s Crossed Fingers. Owned by Frank and Ann Strout, Crossed Fingers defeated a good group of challengers including reserve grand champions Delores Barker and Sultan’s Lady Day. The Cedarledge Farm team had won the limit class to qualify for the championship. Brian Fitzsimmons and Midnight’s Shamrock were reserve in the limit class, while Mary Cichowski and the always busy Santana’s Fox took the red streamers in the open qualifier.

Jayne Romano is going to have a hard act to follow as she debuted with Champagne’s Mizz T Phi to win the Show Pleasure Driving Championship and limit class under the direction of Jan Lukens. Open class winner Kendall Jackson was the reserve grand champion for Daryl Carlow and trainer David Arnold, while Joanne Kelley’s Five Minutes Till Five placed second in the limit class.

One of the newer stars in the Smoke Hollow line up, The King’s Talent reigned supreme as the Adult Three-Gaited Pleasure Grand Champion. Their first Eastern States victory pass came in the limit class where Jenna Bemis and Starumphant took reserve. No stranger to the Eastern States winner’s circle, CH Rare Rascal won the adult qualifier before taking reserve grand champion honors behind The King’s Talent. Owner Michael Behr again provided the winning rides. The red ribbon behind Rare Rascal in the qualifier belonged to Sandy McLaughlin aboard And The Money Keeps Rollin In.

Jessica Moctezuma starred in a number of divisions including the New England Three-Gaited Pleasure Championship in which she rode My Dakota for Gail Wirtz Costello. Next in line for a prize was Livin’ On A Prayer KMC with Jessica Bernier in the irons.

Moving two places up in the standings from the qualifying round, Elizabeth Dirth and Hakeem The Dream made a really smart presentation to take the tricolor and silver from the Juvenile Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Championship. Cassi Wentz and CH Lover’s Heir had was called out as the reserve grand champion after winning the 14-17 qualifier for the Tom Wentz family. Showing several nice horses, Wentz Stables was a good addition to the Big E this year. Careen Dubuc and Undulata’s Jimmy Hollywood rode up as the reserve champions in the 14-17 division.

The top award in the 13 & under section belonged to the leg-waving Caramac’s News Flash, ridden by Kyle Gagnon for Mary Lucia. Jessica Moctezuma and the versatile Callaway’s Royal Request rode away with the red streamers.

Five three-year-olds made the gate call for the UPHA Park Pleasure Classic. When judge Nancy Becker’s card was turned in Star Of The Millennium and Darlene Trento-Wright were at the very top for Alan Lanoue. The next line read Protector and Roger Kearney for Smoke Hollow Farm.

Midnight’s April Dancer was twice a star in the NEHC Open Pleasure Championship and the open pleasure qualifier. Diane Mathieson was the winning jockey for Annie Port. Tara Wentz and Worthy’s Inquisitive turned back the rest of the field for two-time reserve honors.

Blue streamers went the way of Loewe Kasprenski and Promising Looks in the Open Beginner’s Pleasure competition in which Michele Gregory and Worthy’s First Lady commanded the red prize.

Moving to the country pleasure division, the first two ribbon winners in the driving section have been at the top all year long. Jan Beardsley-Blanco and May Day Masquerade continued their incredible season with two more victory passes under the Fairfield South banner. The Somersdream team of Millie LeBoff and Blue Right Through are also familiar faces and they took home two reserve ribbons this year.

Just About Midnight and Dawn Snyder were just about perfect winning two of the three classes they entered including the Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Championship and adult qualifier. Their lone reserve came at the hands of Jessica Moctezuma and Itchy Foot Moe in the New England Three-Gaited Country Pleasure Championship. That same team won the junior exhibitor qualifier in which Tara Grom and The Perfect Storm commanded the red streamers. Kirby Tapper and SS Inner Vision added yet another top ribbon to the Wentz Stables tack room with the reserve grand championship.

Jason Molback and A Magic Surprise went two for two in the Western Country Pleasure division taking both the championship and qualifier for owner Pat Johnson and trainer Nealia McCracken. Tiana Tapper and Key Largo’s Magic made for a colorful twice reserve team.

One of the best highlights of Eastern States is the equitation division with the New England Medal and the Eastcoast Equitation Event both hosting finals in addition to the regular schedule of classes.

The New England Medal was the first big event to be hosted, but sadly only nine riders participated. Preliminaries were held in the morning and then the final round was held on Friday evening. In the final round five riders were sent back to the rail following the regular work and they were asked to drop their irons. Nancy Becker, Annalisa Hall, and Carole Stohlmann officiated and when their cards were turned in it was Lindsay Gama aboard her Morgan, Royal Crown Cavalier, making the trip to the winner’s circle. She was flawless without her irons.

“This has been Lindsay’s lifelong dream to win this Medal and to do it on a Morgan was really special for her,” said Gama’s mother, Holly Armstrong. “All those years of riding everything that came along helped her without stirrups.”

Gama was prepared for this prestigious class by Cricket Hill trainers Lisa Richardson and Kristen Spann. Reserve to the champion was Fairfield South’s Kyle Gagnon, followed by Revelation Farm’s Kaitlyn Grom in third. The remaining Top 10 included Caylah Wright, Brittany Philbrook, Connor Moriarty, Chelsea Gauci, Nicole York and Mariah Moulton.

The Eastcoast Equitation Event had three divisions starting with the Walk and Trot riders. Eighteen walk and trotters started Phase I on Saturday morning and then from that group 10 riders were brought back in the afternoon for Phase II. Jane Morrell and John Whalen joined Nancy Becker on the judging panel for this Final and when the scores were tallied from round two, Brianna Saunders had the high score of 165 points. This was the second Cricket Hill rider to win a Final during the week. The next closest score belonged to stablemate Kimberly Ginsberg who finished with 155. Alexis Pearson ranked third among the walk and trot finalists while representing High Tail Acres. Rounding out the Top 10 were Sarah Flynn, Nikole Joseph, Melissa Swain, Madison Wiles, Nicole Newell, Spencer Alderman and Taylor Bannister.

Eighteen riders were on hand Saturday evening for the Eastcoast Equitation Event Junior Exhibitor Finals. The top riders in the Northeast were split into two sections - both performing rail work and individual workouts. It took a while to get to the end, but when they did, Fairfield South claimed the top two riders. With a large cheering section behind him, Kyle Gagnon rode up to receive the tricolor honors with a top score of 311 points. Another great round of applause went up as Ashley Stine was named the reserve grand champion earning a total of 292 points. Also right there in the mix, Jessica Moctezuma nailed down another good performance to take third with 290 points.

The remaining Top 10 riders included Kaitlyn Grom, Tara Grom, Caylah Wright, Chelsea Gauci, Brittany Philbrook, Brooke Gove and Alexandria Simpson.

Also getting the adults involved, the Eastcoast Equitation Event held that Final on Saturday afternoon with three riders competing.

“I was very pleased with the turnout of riders for our Finals,” said coordinator Peggy Drummey. “It’s great for them to get to ride in front of a large crowd and experience a true finals atmosphere.”

Adult riders finished up the Eastcoast Equitation Event Finals with three entries making the gate call. A talented and versatile rider, Stephanie Sedlacko represented Nealia McCracken’s North Wind Stables as the grand champion.

In the regular class schedule six riders competed for the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship which was won by last year’s Eastcoast Equitation Event Finals Champion Devon Garone. This multi-titled world’s champion also collected the blue in the open qualifier. Reserve grand champion honors belonged to Tara Grom who was followed by her sister, Kaitlyn Grom. Midge Cornell Hunt was on hand to coach the Grom girls.

Fairfield South also had great success in the NHS Good Hands and USAE Medal events as Elke Trilla scored the winning ride both times out. She was followed by Ashley Stine in the Good Hands and Caylah Wright in the Medal.

Walk and Trot is serious business in the Northeast as was evidenced in the three classes available. The Walk and Trot Championship had a host of top young riders competing, but on this Sunday afternoon none could top the ride turned in by Kimberly Ginsberg of Cricket Hill Farm. This little sport had qualified with a victory pass in the UPHA 8 & Under Walk and Trot class. Reserve grand champion honors belonged to top riding Melissa Swain who had won the UPHA 9-10 Walk and Trot class under the direction of Teresa Warka of Hidden Spring Farm. Michele Gregory and Loewe Kasprenski were the respective reserve winners in the qualifiers.

Northeast instructors take their leadline classes just as serious as their walk and trot events. Turned out to perfection and already riding with great form, Kaitlyn Powers added yet another blue to an already successful year. She is instructed by Lilian Gilpin of Rocking Horse Farm. Joining the rest of the family in the show ring, Nikki Percoco represented the Jan Lukens Stables as the reserve champion.

Pleasure equitation riders were also in the mix with Wright Way Stables’ Meghann Wright taking the tricolor honors ahead of Revelation Farm’s Chelsea Simon. In the qualifying round it was Fairfield South’s Jenna Bemis on top with Simon again in reserve.

The Morgan division is always tough to fill at Eastern States with the Grand National right around the corner, but it still seems like with as many Morgans as there are in New England there would be a good group that wasn’t going to Oklahoma that would enjoy showing in front of a large and appreciative audience.

There were two entries in the Morgan Park Saddle Championship in which The Silver Brook Surprise put it all together with a tricolor show for owner/rider/trainer/breeder Tim Lydon. Reserve grand champions Reuben-Ide Celebration and Cliff Rowe claimed the reserve grand champion honors after beating The Silver Brook Surprise in the open class. George Fayad was the owner/breeder of the reserve grand champion.

Clare Simpson and CPM Sabrina were at the fair just long enough to make a victory pass in the Amateur Park Saddle class.

Comoshun’s Cruella de Vil and Kathy Comeau were the names to remember in the park harness division as they were the lone entry in the amateur, open and championship.

Debbie Lukas and Hillwood Irish Rose cleaned up at the Big E and had a great time doing it. They were crowned the Morgan England Pleasure Grand Champions and open class winners. Joann Bush had Tapestry Field Of Dreams in good order to take the reserve grand championship to go with their reserve in the ladies class. Jennifer McCarthy and Ruthless Endeavor were awarded the red ribbon in the open qualifier.

Five entries turned out for the New England Morgan English Pleasure Championship and that competitive class went to Portrait In Red and Brynne Cummings with Debbie Lukas and Hillwood Irish Rose in reserve.

Always on hand with a good string of horses, Sally Eichlin presented MLF Bryce to win the Ladies English Pleasure class over Tapestry Field Of Dreams. Shelley Silber provided the winning ride aboard CP Perfect Timing in the novice rider competition. Janet Mack and Uphyre Main Street were reserve champions as they were in the Junior/Limit Morgan English Pleasure class. Joann Bush and Farabee were the blue ribbon winners in that one.

Shelley Silber and CO Perfect Timing made their second victory pass of the week when they were called out first in the Morgan English Pleasure Amateur Championship. The Cricket Hill team turned back challenges from two other teams including reserve grand champions Ruthless Endeavor and Jennifer McCarthy.

UC Mr T’s Destiny was the name at the top of the list for the Morgan Pleasure Driving Championship. John Bennett made the winning presentation for the University Of Connecticut. They were also on top in the open class. Cingate Mystere came from reserve in the junior/novice class to take reserve grand champion honors for Michael Murphy and owners Scott and Leeann Bradley. Melissa Keene’s Eire Carst Center Stage won that junior/novice class under the direction of Mike Carpenter.

John Eichlin and MLF Bryce had the ring to themselves twice in the Morgan Amateur Pleasure Driving division.

Kate Alderman is growing up to be a fine horsewoman and the Eastern States crowd got to see her make two victory passes in the Morgan Classic Pleasure Driving division with Cedar Creek Tour de Force. Dorothy Hock and NCN Centurion Spirit drove up for the reserve championship ribbon. Robin Mills and Just Jack FM collected the red streamers in the qualifier.

Susan Caisse was at the top all week in the Morgan division and she finished by taking Hillwood Irish Keepsake to the Morgan Classic Pleasure Saddle Championship. This was after a reserve start in the qualifier. Winner of that qualifier, Portrait In Red, was the reserve grand champion with Brynne Cummings in the irons. Also getting in on the Big E blues, Sharon Kania rode Tierra’s Prince to a first place finish in the Classic Novice Rider class in which Andrea Illes and Fury’s White Diamond were reserve.

H-Vee Hawk’s Centair was the lone Morgan Western Pleasure horse taking Jean Custer to three titles. The same happened to Jessica Sanderson and High Brook Concorde in the Morgan Hunter division.

This wraps up the highlights from the 2003 Big E. Complete results can be found in this issue or by visiting our web site

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