Ireland’s Denis Lynch is known for getting the best out of his horses, and stateside this fall, he’s proved it aboard RMF Echo, a 13-year-old Belgian warmblood (Virus de Laubry x Feo) who he’s been campaigning for just under one year. On Saturday, November 4, the duo prevailed over a world-class, 38-horse field to win the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park’s CP National Horse Show. Though “Echo” has so far played a supporting role on Lynch’s string, it’s clear that he’s started to come into his own in a big way.

“[RMF Echo] ended up in our stable this winter, and I was actually short a horse. Then, I started jumping him in some shows at the beginning of the year, and he started progressing [in]to a better horse,” Lynch said of the chestnut gelding.“I’m very, very lucky to have him.”

Though he’s no stranger to top-caliber moutns, it’s Lynch’s ability to recognize the individual personalities and needs of his horses that have made him successful both as a competitor and a horseman. “I have had many great horses in my career, but they all gave me their best within their individual ability, and that is important to highlight,” Lynch has said.

“A horse may not be a type you are used to, but they could be the best horse you’ve ever had if you stay open-minded.”

Here are 15 reasons why Lynch and RMF Echo may be Ireland’s next dream team:

  1. Denis almost lost Echo after he was sold following the Versailles CSI5* in May, but owners Monica and Frank McCourt of Rushy Marsh Farm saved the day, stepping up to buy him so he could stay at Lynch’s yard.
  2. Echo’s previous riders were Great Britain’s Emma O’Dwyer and Sweden’s Royne Zetterman.
  3. Denis and Echo won the CSI5* Hamburg GCT/GCL in May, 2017 for the Miami Glory.
  4. Lynch believes that kindness is a must-have quality in a top horse. “They must have a big, kind eye. A kind horse gives you everything and they make great teammates. There has never been a great horse that wasn’t kind,” he has said.
  5. Lynch’s wife, Julia Hargreaves, represented Australia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
  6. Lynch’s hero is British showjumper John Whitaker.
  7. In 2011, Lynch raised 190,000 Euros to assist the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ISPCA] in tackling Ireland’s horse and pony welfare problem.
  8. In 1997, at age 21, after working in the yard of Peter and Helena Weinberg in Germany, Lynch became stable jockey for the Kemper family in Munster, Germany.
  9. In 2000 he won his first international grand prix.
  10. Lynch says Echo has his own, unique style of jumping.
  11. Lynch vowed to never again use the clip-on stirrups that prevented him from freeing himself from his horse after a fall during the 2011 World Cup Final in Leipzig.
  12. Lynch originally wanted to be a jockey but as he grew up, he became too tall and too heavy and switched to show jumping instead.
  13. Before RMF Echo, Echo’s name was Echo de Laubry.
  14. Denis and Echo placed 2nd in the CSI5* Versailles Grand Prix, just 0.01 seconds behind Pedro Veniss and Quabri de l’Isle.
  15. According to Lynch, it’s Echo’s heart that sets him apart from other horses. “[He] tries a lot for his rider and gives everything,” Lynch said. “The most important thing is what’s in their head, and he wants to keep the jumps up.”

-Photos by: Tori Repole. Reporting by Lizzy Youngling.