SOME of Australia's finest were put through their paces on a frosty morning at the Horsham Racecourse on Tuesday.
Horsham star Surprise Baby was ridden by newly appointed jockey Craig Williams ahead of a highly-anticipated return to competitive racing.
Williams, who won last year's Melbourne Cup aboard Vow and Declare, has been selected to replace Jordan Childs as Surprise Baby's jockey for the spring.
Surprise Baby has not raced competitively since its tantalising fifth-place finish at last year's Melbourne Cup.
WATCH: Craig Williams rides Surprise Baby
Horsham trainer Paul Preusker told the Mail-Times that he still hadn't watched a replay of the race, as Surprise Baby came within a length of claiming Australia's most coveted prize.
The Baby will end it's 10-month absence on Saturday in the $250,000 Feehan Stakes at The Valley.
Preusker's Lunar Fox and Admire Robson were also both put through their paces on Tuesday in Horsham ahead of Saturday.
They were ridden by Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Brett Prebble and group 1-winner Declan Bates respectively.
In addition to Surprise Baby making its grand return this weekend, Horsham-affiliated Nature Strip will also feature.
The "World's Best Sprinter" will be looking for victory in the $160,000 Concorde Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Nature Strip's last competitive race came in April when it blew away the competition to win the $1.225 million TJ Smith.
It begins what is set to be a busy spring schedule for the six-year-old, which could peak with October's The Everest.
Nature Strip is currently a $3.50 favourite for the world's most expensive horse race, after finishing fourth in the event last year.
Horsham District Racing Club president Jason Merlo said having the calibre of Surprise Baby and Nature Strip attached to Horsham was a big positive for the region.
"It's pretty fantastic," he said.
"They are two of the best racehorses getting around at the minute."
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