Story by Jennifer Morrison
For the second consecutive year, Carol and Jaime Robertson's Had to Be Ivory was named the Canadian-bred Quarter Horse of the Year at the annual AQHA Racing Champions of 2019 ceremony at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City.
The awards, held on Jan. 15, honour the best in Quarter Horse racing in North America each year.
The Ontario-bred, trained by Carol's husband Bryn, is the first horse from this province to win the coveted honour on two occasions.
“It means a lot to me and my family,” said Bryn Robertson. “The whole family is a team; my son Mike, daughter-in-law Jaime, plus our groom Zac Kennedy. He's been a great horse.”
Had to Be Ivory won three of five races at Ajax Downs in 2019 at the age of 4 including the $55,800 Picov Maturity, over three-time Horse of the Year Country Boy 123, and the $58,400 Ontario-Bred Maturity. He finished his season with a close fourth-place finish in the prestigious Alex Picov Memorial Championship to Country Boy 123 after losing a shoe. He was ridden in all of his races by Tony Phillips.
“He has a big heart,” said Carol Robertson. “He ran so well last year and even in the Picov Memorial, he ripped his shoe partly off, hurt his knee a bit and still finished close.”
The son Oklahoma stallion Ivory James was foaled at the Robertson's Hillerin Farm in Hillsburgh, ON, Had to Be Ivory is the first foal from the family's stakes winning mare Had to be Fandango, who was purchased as a 2-year-old in 2010 in Oklahoma for just $2,000 (US).
Had to Be Ivory has won 11 of 14 career races and earned $209,834. The big day gelding, who is currently enjoying a winter vacation at Hillerin, is also a contender for Horse of the Year honours at the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario's Awards Banquet this Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Ajax Convention Centre.
Had to be Ivory / Photo by Carol Robertson
“He will be in back in 2020 to race.” said Carol. “And we are excited about his 2-year-old half brother, Had to be Relentless, who has started training with our son Mike at our farm.”
Winner's circle photo by Jennifer Morrison