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Kirkpatrick rules again at Wairarapa shears - October 30, 2011

Napier shearing gun John Kirkpatrick made an early push for a sixth consecutive season as New Zealand's top-ranked shearer when he regained the Wairarapa Spring Shears Open title on Saturday.

With defending champion and fellow Hawke's Bay shearer Adam Brausch eliminated in the semi-finals, the three-times Golden Shears open champion was a comfortable winner of the four-man final at the Wairarapa A and P Show at Clareville, near Carterton.

Pushed a little for time honours by Pongaroa farmer David Buick, Kirkpatrick shore his 15 sheep in 13min 41sec, beating Buick by six seconds, but proved demonstrably superior in the quality stakes and won by almost four points.

Third was Hawke's Bay-based Northland shearer Matthew Smith, enjoying another finals preparing for the World Championships New Zealand team selection series which starts at the Canterbury Show at the end of next week.

Having also won the Great Raihania Shears final in Hastings earlier this month, Saturday's win pushed Kirkpatrick into an early lead in Shearing Sports New Zealand's 2010-2011 national rankings..

Now in his 20th season of Open-class competition, Kirkpatrick first won the rankings' Bowen Trophy in 2002, the season in which he ended King Country icon David Fagan's 12-year reign as Golden Shears champion, and has now headed the rankings each season since 2007.

A prolific winner in both the North and South islands, he's an early-favourite for the eight-round selection series which ends with a final in Gore on February and naming of two machine shearers for the championships in Masterton a fortnight later.

Kirkpatrick won a World teams title with Taranaki farmer Paul Avery in Norway in 2008, but missed out on a place in the team for last year's championships in Wales.

The Carterton event also brought important wins in the lower grades, with Kane Kapene, of Martinborough winning a senior final for the first time, Golden Shears junior champion Michael Rolston, of Levin, winning his first senior title and Manahi Fox, of Masterton, winning his first junior final.

The open woollhandling provided a similar success for woolhandler Choppy Patterson, of Alexandra, who claimed her first Open title.

Coster coasts to early win in big shears series warm-up - October 23, 2011

National multi-breeds shearing champion Tony Coster got in some early winning form in what he hopes will be the biggest season of his career by claiming the Northern A and P Show Open title in Rangiora on Saturday.

The winner of the PGG Wrightson National series final at the Golden Shears three years in a row and recently returned from representing New Zealand in a transtasman series defeat in Perth, Coster hadn't won the Rangiora event since 2005.

Now he's also hoping he can turn the tide in the New Zealand Corriedale Championship, an event dominated by North Island guns John Kirkpatrick and David Fagan since Rakaia shearer Coster last won the Canterbury Show's feature four years ago.

The event on November 11 is the third round of the national series, but has taken a huge step-up in importance this year as the opening round of a series to find New Zealand's two machine shearing representatives for the 15th World Championships to be held at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March.

After a training run today, Coster confirmed he'll be among at least 18 shearers starting the selection series, in which placings points will be amassed in seven rounds before the top 12 are found for the finals at the Southern Shears in Gore in February.

The run through the humid Mid-Canterbury northern gateway countryside is part of the "bit extra" Coster believes he has to do have a chance in the selection series, at the age of 44 and in at least his 22nd season of open-class shearing.

He will also get in a bit more time on the exercise bike and rower which have helped hone him for tougher contests later in the season in recent years.

"I thought I should have given ip a year or two ago," he said. "But here I am, still going. Hopefully a bit of training will pay off."

He needs good points in Christchurch before flying north for the second round in Waipukurau the next day, and said: "Christchurch will be a big one for me, and I will have to do well there."

In between times he will compete at the Ashburton Show next Saturday, and in the main-street set-up of the Pleasant Point Gymkhana the following weekend, saying competing as often as possible, regardless of the level of competition, is just as vital a part of the preparation. He has also managed to take a positive from being part of one of New Zealand's biggest international shearing defeats in Perth a fortnight ago.

While it was no surprise with almost no shearing preparation in Australia before the Royal Show match, Coster said: "There's nothing like a good arse-kicking to get the motivation going."

On Saturday Coster shore his 15 crossbred hoggets in an event-fastest 16min 43sec, 38 seconds ahead of the second-man-off, Canterbury-based Scotsman and former World champion Tom Wilson, who was unable to keep the quality up enough to pose any serious challenge in the final count. Ultimately the runner-up was Canterbury-based Hawke's Bay shearer Harvey Pairama, albeit well beaten by 6.1pts.

Mike McConnell, of Cave, and Brian Thompson, of West Melton, reasserted their dominance of the World Championships blades shearing selection series by finishing first and second in their final.

They were well-beaten to the end of the contest by 2008 representative and Timaru shearer Bill Michelle, clipping the fleeces of five sheep in 12min 57sec, three minutes ahead of McConnell.

With McConnell easily the cleanest shearer, judging saw Michelle relegated to third, unable to match the quality which had seen him win the season's previous two blades finals at Alexandra and Waimate.

Wool champion dedicates wins to killed boss - October 23, 2011

Leading woolhandler Keryn Herbert has some big goals for the new season, but on Friday all the motivation was emotional as she retained the Great Raihania Shears Open title and dedicated the triumph to her "boss" who was killed in a farm accident last week.

"This is for him," she told a packed shearing pavilion at the Hawke's Bay Show in Hastings, before hitting the road fro the 300km journey home to Te Kuiti where farming identity Peter Johnstone's funeral was held the next day.

Herbert had seven-week-old son Rikihana along for the ride while husband Corey stayed home to repair the fences at Puketutu, where the couple live and work for property owner Mr Johnstone who died when his tractor rolled last Tuesday.

She was at home at the time of the tragedy, to which she was alerted by a passing motorist before calling the emergency services.

Mr Johnstone, 70, was one of the King Country's biggest landowners, his blocks also including shearing records venue Moketenui, near Bennydale, and each year he also supplied the stock for the Running of the Sheep through Te Kuiti's main street in conjunction with the New Zealand Shears.

It was the first win of the season for the 32-year-old Herbert, who has blended nine months of pregnancy and the arrival of her second child with her determination to qualify for a second World Championships.

Now embroiled in a selection series to find two woolhandlers to represent New Zealand at the Championships during the Golden Shears in Masterton in March, she's desperately keen to help New Zealand retain the teams title she and Taihape schoolteacher Sheree Alabaster son in Wales last year.


Hawke's Bay-based Northland shearer Matthew Smith in the Great Raihania Shears Open final at the Hawke's Bay Show in Hastings on Friday October 21.

Te Kuiti woolhandler Keryn Herbert after retaining the Great Raihania Shears Open woolhandling title at the Hawke's Bay Show on Friday October 21, even if seven-week-old son Rikihana is not so happy about sharing her day in the sun.

But she's even more determined to make up for her failure to make the individual final in Wales, in which defending champion Alabaster was beaten by Welsh woolhandler Bronwen Tango. Herbert put in a string of 12 post-Christmas finals performances last season to head the national Open woolhandling rankings for the first time, although she failed to qualify for the finals at either the Golden Shears or the New Zealand championships.

Her win on Friday, when she drove from Te Kuiti to Hastings in the morning, was by 14 points from runner-up, New Zealand transtasman series representative and Kimbolton farmer Veronica (Ronnie) Goss, and came in her third final in a fortnight, after placings at the NZ Spring Shears in Waimate and at the Poverty Bay Show in Gisborne. Goss beat 2006 New Zealand transtasman series teammate Tia Potae, of Milton, by just two-tenths of a point, and fourth was 2011 Golden Shears third place-getter Waimiere Peneha, of Masterton.

Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick, a World teams champion in 2008 and reigning Golden Shears Open shearing champion, regained the glamour Great Raihania Shears Open shearing title, with a winning margin of just 0.75pts over defending champion and fellow Hawke's Bay gun Dion King.

Both will next month in Christchurch be among at least 18 starters in an eight-show series which ends in Gore in February to find two machine shearing representatives for the World Championships.

Coveting the No 1 stand on Friday, Kirkpatrick won on speed, shearing 20 of the bigger sheep seen in a Hawke's Bay final in 17min 17sec, and beating next-man-off King by just over half-a-minute. Hawke's Bay-based Northlander Matthew Smith was just five seconds further adrift.

Remarkably, all three were more than two sheep ahead of fourth finalist and King Country icon David Fagan, who in the fortnight beforehand had won the New Zealand Spring Shears title in his last competition before turning 50, and was the fastest shearer in the Poverty Bay final, his first after hitting the milestone.

Poverty Bay shearers cleaned-up in the other shearing events on Friday with the Senior title going to Wi Poutu Ngarangione, of Gisborne, the Intermediate title to Henare Niania, also of Gisborne, and Matawai farmers' daughter Catherine Mullooly, winning the Junior final by a wide margin, just as she had done in her maiden win in Gisborne the previous weekend.

Maryanne Baty, of Gisborne, completed a double of early eastern shows by adding the Senior woolhandling title to a triumph in Gisborne, and a second placing in the previous week's event in Waimate, while Tyneil Smith, of Waipawa, scored her first victory in the Great Raihania Shears Junior woolhandling final.

David Fagan denied a memorable double - October 16, 2011

New Zealand representative Dion King had to put in one of his better performances of quality shearing to beat a top quality lineup and deny the legendary David Fagan a memorable double in the new season's first North Island shearing competition in Gisborne on Saturday.

Shearing at the Poverty Bay Show, which attracted almost 100 shearers and woolhandlers, Te Kuiti gun Fagan was trying to add victory in his first show as a 50-year-old to his last at the age of 49 at Waimate a week earlier, and also complete a double he had scored last season.

He had the crowd in a frenzy as he whipped through his 15 sheep to be first finished in 13 min 31 sec, beating Napier shearer King by 11 seconds.

But the time advantage was not enough to make up for a couple of blemishes, and when all points were counted he was overtaken by King as well as World champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, and Golden Shears champion and New Zealand transtasman series representative John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, who had each finished almost blow-for-blow in just under 14 minutes.

The strength of shearing on the east coast of the North Island was highlighted by the fact that all four shearing titles went to shearers from the region.

Former top national Junior and Intermediate shearer Wi Poutu Ngarangione, of Gisborne, won the senior final after finishing third last year, Henare Nia Nia, also of Gisborne, won the Intermediate final, shutting-out Waimate runner-up Tui Pene, of Wapawa, and the Junior final was a triumphant debut for Catherine Mulhooly, of Matawai.

The Open woolhandling final, the latest round in New Zealand's World Championships selection series, was won by Tia Potae, of Milton, less than two points clear of teams World Champion Keryn Herbert, of Te Awamutu.

Mayanne Baty returned home to win her local Senior woolhandling final, after being runner-up seven days earlier at Waimate, and Junior woolhandler Steve Mason-Smallman, of Taihape, became the first competitor in the Shearing Sports New Zealand season to win two titles, proving just as good with the coast's crossbred long-wool as on the finewool of Alexandras merinos a fortnight ago.

Competition results for the Poverty Bay show can be found here

Win and loss for Kiwi shears team in Australia - October 09, 2011

New Zealand has started its annual home and away transtasman shearing and woolhandling series' with mixed success at the Royal Show in Perth, West Australia yesterday (Saturday).

The woolhandling team of Gisborne's Joel Henare and Manawatu veteran Ronnie Goss continued New Zealand's six-year winning streak in the woolhandling tests, with a comfortable win over Australia, while Henare also won the Australian open woolhandling final.

But it was a different story in the shearing where the Kiwi team of Golden Shears champion John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and South Island shearers Tony Coster, of Rakaia, and Colin O'Neill, of Alexandra, suffered a heavy defeat in the 50th test against Australia since a formal transtasman series began in 1974.

It was the second loss in a row, with Australia also having won at the Golden Shears in Masterton last March, but New Zealand still holds the upper-hand historically, having won 27 of the shearing tests to Australia's 23. Woolhandling was not included until 1998, with New Zealand's advantage now extended to 21 wins to the Australians' six.

There was some consolation for the black singleted shearers with a New Zealand Merino Shears team of Rakaia shearer Grant Smith and Alexandra's Charlie O'Neill winning an annual match against West Australia, having the previous weekend won the first Merino Tri-Nations Challenge against Australia and South Africa in Alexandra.

Fagan hits half-century on top - again - October 09, 2011

Shearing icon David Fagan has again shown that advancing age is still no bar to success on the competition board by winning his last competition before turning 50.

But even before the win at the Waimate Shears on Saturday night Fagan confirmed it wouldn't be the end of the road and he will compete again next weekend in Gisborne going for his first win after hitting the big Five-O.

"It's just another day," he said ahead of Thursday's milestone, celebration of which, he said, would have to wait until till a December break in a season in which he is throwing down the gauntlet to allcomers again in quest of a place in the New Zealand team for the World Championships in Masterton in March.

An eight-round series to find the two machine shearers starts in Christchurch next month. Last night's successful defence of the New Zealand Spring Championships open title took his record in the event to 11 wins spanning 27 of his 30 years in Open-class shearing, which have produced more than 600 wins around the World, including five individual World titles.

It was also part of an all-conquering three days in the south where he won Speedshear events at Waikouaiiti and Waimate on Thursday and Friday nights respectively, and also shared victory in a teams shearing and woolhandling event on Saturday.

The pace which was evident in the single-sheep speedshears' was also evident in the six-man championships final where he was beaten on time only by 27-yearold Hawke's Bay-based Northlander Matthew Smith, who cleared his pen of 16 sheep in 17 minutes 6 seconds.

Beaten by 28 seconds, Fagan wiped the deficit with the better quality points and won by just 0.176pts from Southlander Nathan Stratford, with Smith having to settle for third just another 0.84pts away.

Veterans galore

Fagan's win capped a night for the veterans in Waimate with Joanne Kumeroa, 41, of Whanganui, winning the Open woolhandling title for the seventh time, dating back to her first 20 years ago, and 54-year-old Billy Michelle, of Timaru, winning the Blades championship for a fourth time since 2003.

Each was making it two-out-of-two for the season after winning their respective titles at the season's opener, the NZ Merino title in Alexandra, a week earlier.

The event was the fifth round of woolhandling's World championships New Zealand team selection series. Kumeroa, determined to add to her World championships collection of three individual titles and two teams titles, is heading back to her Australian base and will miss the next round at the Poverty Bay Show, but will return for the New Zealand Corriedale Championships at the Canterbury Show,

It was also another round in the blades shearing qualifying series, but Michelle rules himself out of the running, having missed two earlier rounds at the end of last season. The pace in his final was set by Omarama shearer Ross Kelman who shore five sheep with the blades in 14min 12.47sec, beating Michelle off the board by 48 seconds.

After time and quality points were counted Kelman had to settle for fourth, with defending champion Mike McConnell, of Cave, the runner-up and third place going to 2010 World championships third-placegetter Brian Thomson, of Christchurch.

Lower grades

Mataura teenager Brett Roberts marked his arrival in senior ranks with a crushing victory claiming his first Senior shearing title, Dipton's Linton Palmer was even more dominant in winning the Intermediate final, and Andrew Leith, also of Dipton, was just as commanding in winning his first Junior title.

Hastings woolhandler Kyle Wihongi celebrated victory in the senior woolhandling final, almost a year after his last victory at Hawke's Bay's Great Raihania Shears, and the Junior final was won by Manutuke woolhandler Foonie Waihape, named after Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon

To view more photographs of the Waimate Spring Shears please click here

Kiwi shears hopes invade Australian west - October 04, 2011

Shearing gun John Kirkpatrick returns to the territory of an unlikely former triumph at the Perth Royal Show this week as New Zealand tackles the 50th Transtasman Shearing Test, the first leg of an annual home-and-away series which began in 1974.

But having been on both the winning and losing ends of the battle in Australia - as much against the merino sheep as it is against the Aussie champions - he knows not to get too excited about the chances, despite away-team wins in both of last season's tests at Hay, NSW, and at the Golden Shears in Masterton, NZ

On the eve of his departure for the contest in which three shearers from each country will each shear eight merino wethers and eight crossbred ewes in a balance of the shearing conditions from both sides of the Tasman, the 40-year-old Napier shearer said simply: "We'll take it as it comes."

That's much how it was for his two previous New Zealand team trips to Australia, with mixed results.

After winning his first Golden Shears Open title in 2002, he arrived for a test at Esperance, also in West Australia, without having ever shorn a merino. But, with gear and tutillage from teammates and merino-wise South Island shearers Darin Ford and Dion Morrell he just made it through the wrinklies and helped New Zealand to what was its last win in Australia for eight years.

"I didn't keep up on the merinos," he recalled. "But I did beat one of the Aussies back on the crossies, and we won."

After winning his second Golden Shears Open in 2008 he was back in Australia again, taking to the board without any merino preparation at all on the trip to Hay, NSW, home to some of the toughest of the Australian merinos.

The merino half of the contest took well over half the 25 minutes for which he struggled on the board, finishing more than three minutes behind the first of the victorious Australians.

Back as Golden Shears champion again, Kirkpatrick will be looking to his teammates for guidance again, three-times PGG Wrightson National multi-wools series winner Tony Coster, of Rakaia, and Colin O'Neill, of Alexandra, both of whom shore in the final of the New Zealand Merino Championship in Alexandra on Saturday.

Coster is the sole survivior from last season's team, and O'Neill is a new member, emulating brother Charlie O'Neill who shore for New Zealand in Australia two years ago.

Charlie O'Neill will also be in Perth with Rakaia shearer Grant Smith as the New Zealand Merino Shears team hoping to score a cleansweep of two Tri-Nations machine shearing challenges against Australia and South Africa, having won the first during the 50th New Zealand Merino Championships in Alexandra, Central Otago, at the weekend.

Third O'Neill brother Jock is working in West Australia and will compete in Open events during the Show, while Kirkpatrick also has local knowledge to call-on, in brother and former shearer Herbie, who has been living in the West for several years.

The Transtasman series team includes two woolhandlers out to extend New Zealand's winning sequence to 12.

One of them, Manawatu farmer's wife Ronnie Goss, of Apiti, who Kirkpatrick regards as a mentor from his teenage days shearing in Wairarapa, was in the last New Zealand team to be beaten by Australia, in South Australia in 2005.

She claimed a place in the team by winning the North Island woolhandling circuit last summer, and teammate Joel Henare, of Gisborne, claimed his place by winning the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year final.

The events are part of the Australian National Championships being held in Perth for the first time in 15 years, an era in which the Perth show's Open title has been dominated by Broomehill gun and likely Australian transtasman team leader Damien Boyle, who on Saturday won his second-successive New Zealand Merino Shears Open title.

In NZ, the show must go on
The trip to Australia means the Kiwis will miss the New Zealand Spring Shears in Waimate on Friday and Saturday, the second show of the Shearing Sports New Zealand season which takes shearing and woolhandling competitions to about 60 venues throughout the country.

Waimate competition features the second round of the PGG Wrightson National (the premier Open-class multi-breeds shearing series), the fifth round of woolhandling's 12-competition World Championships New Zealand team selection series, and the third of seven rounds in a blade shearing selection series.

About the Transtasman Series
The Golden Shears International Shearing Championships were established in Masterton, NZ, in 1961, and staged what is thought to have been the first Shearing international test match two years later.

It was, however, not until 1974 that a home-and-away Transtasman series was started, the first test being held at the new Australian Golden Shears at Euroa, Vic. The venue alternated between Euroa and Masterton until 1984 when it stopped because of conflict in the Australian shearing industry.

It resumed at Perth in 1997, and the Australian leg is now held each year at the Australian National Championships, hosted by different states each year. This weekend's test is the 50th in the two Transtasman series eras, with New Zealand having won 27 and Australia 22.

Woolhandling tests were introduced at Armidale, NSW, in 1998. There have now been 26 woolhandling test, New Zealand winning 20 and Australia 6.

Kumeroa champions the moment - October 03, 2011

Prolific woolhandling champion Joanne Kumeroa was again the lady of the moment as she won the 50th anniversary New Zealand Merino Championships open woolhandling title in Alexandra on Saturday(Oct 2).

The three-times World champion from Whanganui added the title to the 50th anniversary Golden Shears open title she won in Masterton in 2010, and extended her catalogue of Merino shears Open championships to an unchallenged record of seven wins, dating back to 1994.

She had last won the final in 2006 and having finished third last year saved her best for the milestone event which attracted 44 competitors in the open class, three more than competed at the Golden Shears last March, making it the biggest open-class woolhandling event in the World this year.

Defending champion Taiwha Nelson, of Invercargill, made the final again but had to settle for fourth, while Gisborne's Joel Henare was runner-up for a second year in a row.

Based in Central Otago since the start of pre-lamb shearing, Kumeroa plans to compete throughout the New Zealand season chasing a place in the national team for the next World Championships at the Golden Shears in March.

Australian Damian Boyle, from Broomehill, West Australia, retained his Open shearing tile by a comfortable 5pts from host-town hope Colin O'Neill, although the Central Otago shearer won the six-man race, shearing 12 sheep in 22min 43.36sec.

Beaten by 15 seconds, Boyle's quality won the day as he and O'Neill both beat the nearest rival Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill by about a sheep and a half.

Blades shearing returned to the championships with a big win for South Canterbury Bill Michelle, beating three-times World champion blades master Zweliwile Hans and fellow South African Mayenzeke Shweni.

Earlier in the weekend, the New Zealand team of Grant Smith and O'Neill's brother, Charlie, won the a Tri-Nations Merino machine shearing Challenge, while Hans and Shweni had an expected comfortable win over New Zealand and Australia in a blade-shearing Tri-Nations.

Both events were staged especially to celebrate the golden jubilee, for which the championships, the opening weekend of the Shearing Sports New Zealand season, was extended to three days.

The second event of the season is the New Zealand Spring Shears at Waimate on Friday and Saturday, clashing with the Australian leg of the annual home-and-away transtasman series, at the Perth Royal Show.

One each as Kiwis share merino champs spoils - October 01, 2011

South Island shearers Grant Smith and Charlie O'Neill kept the New Zealand flag flying with victory in the first Tri-Nations Machine Shearing Challenge which brought together six of the best finewool shearers in the World in Alexandra last night.

Their win over Australia and South Africa at the 50th anniversary New Zealand Merino Championships which kicked-off the new Shearing Sports New Zealand season followed an expected victory by World champion South Africans Zweliwile Hans and Mayenzeke Shweni in a blades shearing test.

Smith, from Rakaia, and host-town shearer O'Neill won their test over four sheep each by 5.3pts from the Australian team of Damian Boyle and Mark Buscombe, both from West Australia, with just over 14pts to the South African team of Isaac Ndlongwane and Bongani August.

Three-times World champion Hans, and Shweni, who won a Golden Shears World Championships teams gold medal in Wales last year, were comfortable winners of the blades test of two sheep each, beating New Zealanders Brian Thompson, of Christchurch, and Mike McConnell, of Cave, by more than 13pts.

The Australian team, of John Nicholl and Jim Barnett, a new pairing after the late withdrawal of World championships finalist John Dalla, was a further 33pts away.

In other events decided on yesterday, the second day of the three-day celebration, Stevie Masion-Smallman, of Taihape, won the Junior woolhandling final, while the Senior woolhandling title went to Keri Henare, of Gisborne.

The Marino championships finish today(Saturday), with the features the Open shearing and woolhandling finals.

Shearing Tri-Nations - September 28, 2011

The Central Otago town of Alexandra is making-up for sitting out much of the Rugby World Cup in the shadow of star-struck neighbour Queenstown by staging its own Tri-Nations this week - at sheep shearing.

Teams from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand will contest internationals in both machine shearing and blades shearing on Friday, the second of three days at the 50th New Zealand Merino Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Among those flying in, evading the paparazzi at Queenstown Airport on Sunday, was African blades shearing icon Zweliwile Hans, who has won World titles in Ireland, South Africa and Norway, and who hopes in March to add Masterton, the home of the Golden Shears international competition shearing movement.

About 180 shearers and woolhandlers will be in Alexandra for the championships, the first show of more than 60 in the Shearing Sports New Zealand season which ends next April, and includes the 15th World Championships from February 29 to March 3.

In the heart of New Zealand's merino farming, the Alexandra championships are also the only finewool events in the season, the features apart from the internationals being the open shearing and woolhandling finals.

Among the 48 in the open shearing heats on Friday will be seven former winners, including reigning champion Damian Boyle, from West Australia.

Also competing will be veteran specialist crossbred shearer and multiple World Champion and record holder David Fagan, of Te Kuiti, who turns 50 next month and has won more than 610 open-class finals around the World, but never the finewool championships.

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