Saturday Selection: November, 9th 2019

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

6.40 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Dropping significantly in his handicap mark, with first time visor applied, Ower Fly is an intriguing contender. The 6 furlong trip is certainly no issue, questions are more about the fibresand and whether he still has the appetite to race.

I would argue having been dropped 4lb for the latest Newcastle effort, a fair 5th place where he dwelled yet moved soon to the front, travelled well for long enough and ran on gamely to the line, Ower Fly has been given a significant opportunity by the handicapper.

In act the six-year-old is down a whopping 25 pounds since the start of the year. Which shows he hasn’t been at his best in 2019, and a wind surgery didn’t seem to help either.

So there is significant risk attached to him. Further to this he didn’t seem to start quite as enthusiastically in his latest races, however wasn’t helped at the penultimate race when heavily bumped early on. On the other hand there were glimmers of hope, as the most recent performances showed as did a solid 5th place at Ascot in the summer.

Ower Fly has achieved a topspeed rating of 63+ on 14 occasions throughout his career, on both turf and the All-Weather. With that in mind there clearly is a fair chance that if rejuvinated by the switch to fibresand and visor, he can run a massive race in this poor field.

He can also be beaten soon after the start. A wider than ideal draw, if he dwells again and struggles to take to the surface, he’s gone after two furlongs. I’m prepared to take the risk.

Selection:
10pts win – Ower Fly @ 10/1 MB

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Friday Selections: November, 8th 2019

Iron Major Dundalk

6.35 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Back after a little break, Lucky Violet appears a compelling alternative to the market principles in an open race that lacks standout chances.

The seven-year-old isn’t the force of the past, however arrives off a career lowest handicap mark on either turf or All-Weather. He is still searching for a maiden victory on the sand, though, only had eight starts, all of a higher marks and only three over his preferred mile trip.

Lucky Violet showed that there is still life when running well earlier this year on turf – a number of placed efforts at Ayr at Hamilton off 64 and 65 ratings in higher class.

Down in class 6 back on the All-Weather, his mark a lowly 49 rating, given he ran to much higher topspeed ratings in the past, in fact he did so in 2019, albeit on turf, but also a 51 TS performance last November at this venue, suggest he could go well today.

Selection:
10pts win – Lucky Violet @ 23/1 MB

………

6.45 Dundalk: 45-65 Handicap, 7 furlongs

If Crest Of A Wave can bounce back after a recent below part effort she is in with a big chance of her current mark. That is a substantial if, given she remains a maiden after twelve starts. Equally there is plenty to like about her chance today.

For one, she ran well in her other two Dundalk starts this autumn, when not beaten far and in fact finishing a good third place last month. She is two pounds lower today, which is a career lowest for her.

Crest Of A Wave showed promise on the All-Weather earlier this year already, when finishing runner-up and 4th on two subsequent occasions. She ran to topspeed ratings of 50 and 59 back then, suggesting there is opportunity for her today with a good draw and lowly 47 handicap mark to play with.

Selection:
10pts win – Crest Of A Wave @ 16/1 MB

Race Preview: 2019 Melbourne Cup

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The race that stops a nation…. or the race that stops me sleep. Every year the same procedure: Melbourne Cup Tuesday is nearing and I am excited as a little child on the eve before Christmas. I LOVE the Melbourne Cup, it’s my favourite race.

It helps having backed the winner of the last two editions at rather generous odds, of course. While I love the spectacle of watching the race on TV at half past three in the morning with a blanket and a warm cuppa in my hands, it’s certainly has been financially rewarding as much as it’s emotionally warming – backing a winner or not.

But backing a winner is even more fun. So Let’s do three in a row?

………

This year appears to be a highly compelling renewal – certainly on paper. The field includes Cross Counter, the defending champion; the exciting Japanese rider and Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace; the Ebor Handicap winner Mustajeer; last years Irish Derby hero Latrobe; plus a highly competitive home team.

On the other hand, I feel this race is much easier to dissect than in years past. Sure, luck can play its part in the race. A massive field will always produce a hard-luck story…. or two, or three of those stories. Regardless, I can see only a handful of realistic contenders, to be perfectly honest.

You can cross a line through half the field easily on the grounds of the softish going, distance, weight or racing style. The ones I can’t dismiss so easily and who made it on to my shortlist are as follows:

Il Paradiso: fits the trend of recent winners. Still relatively low mileage, some classy form in the book, looks to have the right sort of relaxed attitude, appears to stay and will be fine on any softness left in the ground. His tendency to break slowly is a major negative from draw 17, though. Blinkers may help but the “may” is already reflected in the price, I’m afraid.

Constantinople: you couldn’t watch the Caulfield Cup and not be impressed how he finished despite the fact he came from well off the pace and was significantly hampered at a crucial stage. Ran twice to a 108 topspeed ratings year. Most talented horse in the race?

His racing style is not and advantage. His tendency to sweat and exert energy in the preliminaries neither. Not easy to get things right on him. Needs everything to fall right, which it may well do, but I’m happy enough to let it go for single figure odds.

Vow And Declare: Strong chance for the home team if there wouldn’t be the draw. Classy stayer, form in the book, hits peak at the right time as excellent runner-up performance in Caulfield Cup suggested. Drawn in 21 will make life tough.

Dawndraft: Quite a bit of racing under the belt yet still improving. Good performances in Ireland this summer, including career best Listed success (101 TS) albeit below standard required here.

But two good runs since arriving Down Under. Visually compelling latest victory. But that performance came only 3 days ago which is a major concern.

Mustajeer: Excellent winner of the Ebor. Has improved again this season, ran well in Group races before having the perfect race at York. From the draw to the way the race developed to a clear run: everything worked to perfection.

He is a strong galloping sort who I feel will be suited perfectly by the Melbourne Cup. Had a fine prep in the Caulfield Cup and won’t fear the ground.

But that is the point: everything went to perfection at York. Will it today? He’s uncomplicated, that’s a big plus. I think he will go close. Still, it’s going to be the Ebor 4th Raymond Tusk that my money is riding with on Tuesday morning, 4am Irish time.

Raymond Tusk: On a different day he’d have been the brilliant winner of the 2019 Ebor and would be much shorter in the betting than he is now. Drawn in the car park he was trailing the field still turning for home, a wall of horses in front, yet travelling much the best. He had to weave his way through for a clear run and the bird was flown when he finally did.

Still finished a strong 4th, not far beaten, and running to a career best 107 topspeed rating. He’s 4lb better off with Mustajeer here and has a much better draw to play with.

I have one fear that is Jamie Spencer: we know he likes to come from off the pace with his mounts. I hope the good draw will help to settle on a positive racing strategy. Interviews I heard have given me hope indeed.

Still with low enough mileage, Raymond Tusk is an improving individual, who comes here fresh, which seems to bring the best of him usually. Cut in the ground is a question mark. His best results cam on fast ground. However he didn’t have a lot of chances to race on soft. And he did win a maiden over 1 mile on good to soft. Another pointer to give hope.

Selection: 
10pts win – Raymond Tusk @ 23/1 MB

Saturday Selections: November, 2nd 2019

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Friday night started in the worst possible way: me looking like an idiot. Here I am backing a short priced favourite for the first time in ages, touting the horse as the proverbial “good thing” that will go on to win the 2000 Guineas. Yeah, that worked out well….

The winner of the Futurity Stakes is a good horse, make no mistake. He already ran twice to 99 topspeed ratings before last night, is an April foal and clearly is consistent on a high level as another 97 TS performance showed last night.

I continue to retain some faith in Kinross, nonetheless. He was pretty keen early on and once again starting issues made life tricky. Hopefully Ralph Beckett can sort this behaviour out over the winter as I firmly belief the time to shine for this colt is as a 3-year-old.

Before moving on to selections for Breeders Cup Saturday, let me say I’m properly grateful to Jose Ortiz: he gave Structor a superb tactical ride. I needed that winner badly. Particularly as Vive La Difference finished strongly once more but found trouble – obviously – at Newcastle earlier.

I have to admit in my head I was counting the money when I saw the splits and certainly when Sweet Melania turned for home in the Juvenile Fillies Turf…. shame she couldn’t quite hold on. Anyway, plenty on the menu on Super Saturday as well!

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7.30 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Big chance for Cashel to get back to winning ways: already a course and distance winner, he has fallen to a super sexy handicap mark, having won of allot higher in the past and having run to topspeed ratings of 59+ three times this year alone! So, now down to 58 he is rather obviously well handicapped.

In my view he clearly proved this point when last seen at Kempton. Cashel had a strange break, nearly lost the jockey and was always trailing the field which isn’t his ideal style. He ran on well to finish third in what was an unusually competitive contest with form that stands the test of time already.

The 1lb drop in his mark since is a nice little bonus in combination with the 3lb claim of Theodore Ladd in the saddle. First time CP will hopefully help early on the race – the draw is bad, and he’ll need to be quick out of the blocks.

If Cashel does he’ll be hard to beat tonight.

Selection:
10pts win – Cashel @ 9/2 MB

………

6.17 Santa Anita: G2 Twilight Derby, 1m 1f

Tricky affair and most market principles have raced each other without conclusive outcomes in the past. I think, however, one who still seems underappreciated is Tapit colt Kingly.

He remains pretty lightly raced and certainly unexposed on turf. On the other hand he showed plenty of promise in three starts on the lush green, much in line with his excellent pedigree.

He showed early promise in spring landing the Listed California Derby at Golden Gates polytrack but couldn’t bring his best to the dirt subsequently. Since the switch to turf he won a grade 3 at Del Mar, beating current favourite Neptune Storm. A 4th and 5th place finish subsequently look questionable but are exceptional pieces of form judged by circumstances.

He was lit up the next time in the Del Mar Derby, bumped right after start by the horse beside him in a bid to overcome the widest draw. He stormed to the lead soon after and that’s where the damage was done. He was less than two lengths beaten in the end.

Next time at Santa Anita, stepping up to open company, he led again, setting off way too fast, going hard all out and nearly led gate to wire in fact, only to be swept by late by the elder horses.

A wide draw doesn’t make things easy today, but there aren’t too many who are likely to compete hard for the lead, so I think he can overcome that.

If Mario Gutierrez can minimize the amount of fuel to be burned in this early phase of the race I think there is a massive chance Kingly will be hard to beg back as he stays the trip, will get a clear run, while some of the other market principles will have to hope for have to weave through traffic.

Selection:
10pts win – Kingly @ 6/1 BF

……….

8.54 Santa Anita: G1 BC Filly & Mare Turf, 1m 2f

It may look foolish to oppose Sistercharlie, given her incredible record. Even more so as I really struggle to fancy the Euro opposition. However, the one who seems to have come back to life and has run to a career best only recently, backing up other good performances from earlier this year is 2018 1000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook.

She is completely unexposed over this sort of trip, bar one try in the Nassau last year, which was an odd race to some extend and the filly potentially not at her best anyway. Her pedigree however gives her quite a decent chance of staying the distance.

Particularly with conditions she’ll appreciate. I hope Sean Levey is not afraid to utilize the excellent draw and moves instead of settling off the pace, where Billesdon Brook would only find herself around a number of other European contenders who all will be compromising their respective chances.

After a number of disappointing efforts following her superb Newmarket success last spring somehow the 4-year-old found back to her best this summer, winning three times, runner-up another time, starting in Listed company getting confidence back seemingly, all the way up to landing the Sun Chariot – which was a career best judged by tospeed, as she ran to 103, bettering her Guineas best of 101 – she also ran weeks early to 96 in Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood.

What this shows: Billesdon Brook is in the form of her life! Obvious question is whether she can hold it and bring it to Santa Anita. If she can she has a much better chance to go really close today than the big odds suggest. She also gets the added boost of running first time on lasix.

Selection:
10pts win – Billesdon Brook @ 14/1 MB

……….

8.20 Santa Anita: Grade 1 BC Mile Turf, 1 mile

I don’t think the fast ground and turns over this sharp mile will suit Circus Maximus. Two other Europeans I like a lot instead are Space Traveller for one – but the fact he usually settles off the pace plus the small issue of not racing on Lasix is enough to put me off.

The other one is Hey Gaman. This is a consistent horse, running to a high standards usually, if he gets his conditions. So throw the recent soft ground performances out of the window. Leaving those aside,  he won two contests in Listed and Group 3 company and was runner-up in two more hot Group 2 races, all over 7 furlongs.

He achieved topspeed ratings of 99, 100 and 105 in three subsequent races this season. That is quite a high standard I argue not many in this Breeders Cup Mile field have achieved. Furthermore he has the racing style you want for your horse at this track.

Add to that the fact he gets first time Lasix and you have a massive chance. Negative: the draw. However, maybe not as much a negative potentially as this race could turn into affair with little early pace to shout about. Hey Gaman usually breaks well so he should be able to make it over fairly quickly I feel.

The step up to a mile on this lightning fast ground is no issue either. There is enough stamina in pedigree, he is a full-brother to a winner over a mile and himself has some fair form over the trip too.

Selection:
10pts win – Hey Gaman @ 18/1 WH

………

11.40 Santa Anita: G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, 1m 4f

Bricks And Mortar and vulnerable over this trip. AVD has gone backwards since the Derby. Something else may spring a surprise from the front, but I feel eerily confident Old Persian will be able to cover all moves.

He’s not quite superstar status, however he certainly is a high class individual with comparatively low mileage this season, coming here potentially fresher than others.

He’s won the Northern Dancer comfortably when last seen, so had a perfect prep while having ran to topspeed ratings of 110 in the past plus to 104 at Meydan earlier this year, he looks to have the making of what should be the favourite in the race.

The draw isn’t ideal and is my main worry that Buick will “slot in” too far off the pace. I hope he is smart and brave enough to go forward, without being suicidal, and not let the pace go too far away.

If the pilot gets the tactics right then the horse will deliver with everything sure to suit: track, trip, ground.

Selection:
10pts win – Old Persian @ 4/1 PP

Super Friday Preview

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Bold prediction: we’ll see the 2000 Guineas winner 2020 tonight. I know, I know….. I hear you shouting the name of the colt the boys in blue own. Fair shout. But…..

6.00 Newcastle: G1 Futurity Stakes, 1 mile

…. Kinross will be the better three-year-old.

Sure enough he still has to show up and run at Newcastle tonight. I have no doubt he’ll beat this field, albeit Kameka looks a fine rival. However, watch the Newmarket debut of Kinross again – this is something you won’t see all that often.

He missed the break, yet travelled supremely well soon after, cruised passed the leaders with ease and won the race effectively in a canter – running to a topspeed rating of 100 on the bridle, on his debut, despite botching the start AND all of that as a May foal.

“Are you kidding me?” That was my reaction when I saw this incredible debut performance.

If Kinross stays healthy and winters well he’ll be the one we’ll talk about as horse of the year in twelve months time. That’s another bold prediction.

As far as tonight goes: Kingman has a fine record on the All-Weather, on the Tapeta surface, with juveniles and over a mile. if Kinross is as good as I believe he is, the switch to Newcastle for the Futurity Stakes is a non-issue.

Hence for once I have backed a short price. Something I rarely do. But I do so today because I firmly belief he’s way too big a price to let go.

Selection:
10pts win – Kinross @ 1.65/1 MB

………..

7.30 Newcastle: Class 5 handicap, 7f

A few here that look handicapped to go close. The likes of Esprit De Corps and Valley of Fire in particular. But the one well-handicapped is Vive La Difference.

I have been keen on the gelding before. At Ayr at the end of September I selected him off 2lb higher than today. He was desperately unlucky today. I didn’t deem circumstances right the next few times and sure enough he continued to make life difficult for himself. Yet here is hoping today is THE day.

Vive La Difference can start slowly and seems to always find ways to get into trouble in-running. He may do so again today. It’s a big field, he’ll need a “lucky” break. But at the same time the 5-year-old is handicapped to slaughter this field, if he finds a way through and doesn’t lose too much early on. What I said back in September still holds largely true today:

“The 5-year-old gelding has been struggling to find his best for a while, certainly starting slowly on pretty much every occasion doesn’t help. At the same time a few performances have been promising this year, when not far beaten in competitive races at Wetherby or Ripon earlier this season.

Vive La Difference has fallen quite a bit in his handicap mark, now 10lb lower than he started the season. He ran twice in his career to topspeed ratings of higher than 70, and a number of times around his current handicap mark of 68, including this year.”

What has changed is he’s now down to a handicap mark of 68 and this is a Tapeta surface and a 7 furlong trip. I don’t think either is a problem. He’s got form over this shorter trip already and being unexposed on the All-Weather may rather be a positive.

Selection:
10pts win – Vive La Difference @ 12/1 WH

………..

8.12 Santa Anita: G2 BC Juvenile Turf Sprint, 5f

This looks surprisingly uncompetitive in my eyes and even more surprisingly the advantage lies with the home team. The two with prime chances above everyone else are trained by Wesley Ward.

You really have to fear the speed of Four Wheel Drive and he looked still raw when winning the Futurity recently. Drawn in nine is on the edge of becoming a significant issue. His speed can see him getting out of jail. To the detriment of doing too much too soon?

Kimari is the one I side with. She is the favourite and a rock solid one who I’d price around 5/2. She is on the go for a while, was over in Europe came desperately close at Royal Ascot and has won a Listed- and Stakes contest in fine style in her last two starts.

Drawn in seven is fine. She should settle in midfield but hopefully not too far off the pace. She has speed in her own right, anyway. Kimari holds the upper hand over the European raiders given she is the only on the in the field having run to a significant topspeed rating so far (97 at RA).

I’m pretty sure there is more to come from her. The only risk is the long season she is having and the draw possibly seeing her too far back. I’ll take it because in my view she is hands and shoulders above the rest, particularly with the weight allowance.

Selection:
10pts win – Kimari @ 10/3 WH

………..

8.52 Santa Anita: G1 BC Juvenile Turf, 1 mile

Arizona is the standout individual in this race, without a shadow of a doubt. Posted 100+ topspeed ratings multiple times, underpinning his form lines in hot competition. If he can overcome the wide draw he’ll be hard to beat. For all that he is merely a fair price.

The good prices are snapped up for the one I fancy, but there is still a hint of juice left: Structor cost quite a bit of money and so far has proven his buyers right: he won a maiden race on debut in fine style and followed up on his second start with an excellent Grade 3 triumph.

Visually those performances weren’t all that sexy but I like the fact this lad is so simple – he does all the right things, bounces out of the gate, travelles and sticks to the task. With more improvement to come, a perfect draw and racing style he can go all the way today for an upset against AOB’s favourite.

Selection:
10pts win – Structor @ 13/2 WH

………

10.12 Santa Anita: BC G1 Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile

I struggle to trust the Europeans in this contest for a variety of reasons: trip, ground or draw. However, if she takes to the trip, which is a possibility on this fast ground and with all the right visual clues, then Daahyeh is a hot chance. But I can’t quite leave her pedigree out of the equation and feel one of the US fillies has a stronger chance.

That’s Sweet Melania. She’s drawn wide, which isn’t ideal, obviously. However, she has plenty of early speed, connections already mentioned they’ll move forward, and given her experience I trust Ortiz to get the job done.

She’s another one who was quite an expensive yearling, given she is incredibly well bred, obviously. She has been nicely improving all season long and her latest Grade 2 gate to wire success was an impressive performance.

A repeat of that level of form, potentially a bit more improvement still to come, she should go very close today. I don’t mind that she was beaten two back by Christalle. Sweet Melania seems to have move forward since then and was only ran down late over further than today.

Selection:
10pts win – Sweet Melania @ 15/2 WH

Saturday Selections: October, 26th 2019

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6.00 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

A competitive race with a short prices favourite who ran a career best last time out. Can Bobby Biscuit follow up? It’s worth taking him on, I feel.

Particularly as there are two horses at double figure prices who appear handicapped to go close, and I can’t split them, hence I split my stake in half for them.

Creek Island: back on the All-Weather where has two placed efforts in three starts to his name. Bar a most recent poor showing, the colt ran with credit in his last handful of races.

The 3-year-old drops below the 70 rating barrier, though, which makes him a compelling shot today, given he has ran to a topspeed rating of 70 in May (albeit on turf on soft; won that day OR 67), and has the solid assistance ofa 5lb claimer today.

Al Reeh: potentially a Kempton specialist, however looks potentially well in if he can show his best at Chelmsford. Gone close off 3lb higher than current handicap mark last winter.

Ran four times in his career to a 72+ topspeed rating (3x on the All-Weather). Was fancied when coming off a small break last time out here at Chelmsford. Things didn’t quite pan out but it was a strong contest. 2lb lower today, big shout.

Selections:
5pts win – Al Reeh @ 11.5/1 MB
5pts win – Creek Island @ 12.5/1 MB

………

6.30 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 1 mile

This is such a poor race that I can see a long-shot getting up to win. It looks unlikely by recent form, and possibly his days are over, nonetheless at given prices I’ll risk a bet on bottom weight Mr Minerals.

Hard to make a case for him by what he showed in recent times. However, only back in February he finished 3rd and 4th in stronger races at Newcastle, off 12lb higher than his current rating, and ran to 68 topspeed also.

In fact, five times Mr Minerals achieved a TS rating of 67 plus, the majority on the All-Weather. So there is something there, that if he could find some spark for the drop to a more realistic trip, he may outrun his massive price tag today.

Selection:
10pts win – Mr Minerals @ 50/1 WH

 

Saturday Selections: October, 19th 2019

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

I’m short in time today, hence for now only focus on British Champions Day – Wolverhampton selections maybe later on today. Saying that, still looking for a first winner in October. Tough times…. and as my two selections are massive prices I can’t realistically hope that it’ll change anytime soon!

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2.45:  G1 Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, 1m3½f 

Looks a coin toss on form and ratings between four fillies, namely favourite Star Catcher, Oaks winner Anapurna and the Aiden O’Brien duo Fleeting and Delphina.

You can make solid cases for either of these, but the forgotten horse in this quartet is Delphina. Yes, she is yet to win on the highest level, and only three starts back was beaten in a Group 3 at Cork. The drop in trip may not be totally ideal, but then I think over this course with soft underfoot conditions it might well be.

For a start Delphina is drawn well, so she should be able to settle close enough to the pace which I feel is an advantage here. She will not have to work hard for that, unlike, for example at Longchamp when last seen where was drawn widest.

That performance in the Prix de Royallieu was an excellent performance, given she ran into plenty of trouble in the closing stages. It was also a nice progression from her excellent runner-up performance at Doncaster in the Hill Stakes.

That particular performance is interesting as Delphina ran to a 105 topspeed rating, which is the highest in this field. Granted it came on fast ground, but she proved in France that soft ground is no issue.

Given she has yet to win beyond maiden company she has a little bit to find with the market principles. However on official ratings that is a mere one or two pounds. If she still has something to give after a busy second half of the season I see her going really close today.

Selection:
10pts win – Delphina @ 24/1 MB

……….

3.20: G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 1m

With the tough going likely to slow down things significantly and the ground potentially suitable – well, certainly a change – I’m quite intrigued by Phoenix Of Spain today, given he also has a new jockey on board.

He was so impressive in the Irish 2000 Guineas, though hasn’t kicked on from there, although you couldn’t say he’s been running poorly, given he contested top class opposition on the highest level, and despite not coming close to win clocked 93 and 94 tospeed ratings in his last three runs.

That is far off the whopping 105 achieved at the Curragh, or the 101 at last years Futurity Trophy (on softish conditions!), but shows Phoenix Of Spain hasn’t gone dramatically backwards.

On the plus side also he might be a little bit fresher than some of the more fancied runners here. I hope he can overcome the wider than ideal draw and settle up with the pace. If so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him outrunning his price tag.

Selection:
10pts win – Phoenix Of Spain @ 25/1 MB

Horse Racing Around The Globe

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