The Gai Waterhouse-trained duo of English and Speak Fondly have both been included in the 2016 Challenge Stakes nominations and are set to return to the races in the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick this weekend.
English has had just four race starts and has not been seen at the races since she failed to fire in the Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 6 last year.
Waterhouse elected not to give English a 2015 Spring Racing Carnival preparation in order to give her the chance to grow and based on two recent barrier trial performances at Royal Randwick that decision has paid dividends.
English upstaged a star-studded field to record a win in a barrier trial over 839 metres at Royal Randwick on January 29 and she showed an impressive turn-of-foot to win a trial over 837 metres at the same venue on February 19.
Speak Fondly was not up to the same level as English as a two-year-old, but the daughter of Northern Meteor was able to go to another level during the spring and was the star Sydney filly.
The three-year-old started her spring preparation with a comfortable victory in the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 22 and she proved that win was no fluke when she took out the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) at the same venue on September 5.
Speak Fondly was far from disgraced when she finished second behind Exosphere in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 12 and she finished her campaign with a very narrow win over Honesta and Perignon in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 3.
The talented filly has only been given a single barrier trial ahead of her return to racing, but she beat the likes of Al Nader, Artistry and Contributer to take out a trial over 837 metres at Royal Randwick on February 19.
English and Speak Fondly are set to take on a number of talented sprinters in the Challenge Stakes and plenty of other gallopers will go into the race first-up.
Joseph Pride-trained Ball Of Muscle, talented mare Bring Me The Maid, Godolphin filly Ottoman, Newmarket Handicap scratching Kinglike and the talented Shiraz are all set to return to the races in the Challenge Stakes, while the likes of Boss Lane, Craftiness, Felines, Rule The River, Tiger Tees and Va Pensiero could also contest the $500,000 race.