CARBONDALE, Colo., August 21, 2019---For the second year in a row, the Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar fundraiser at Aspen Valley Polo Club topped the previous year's total for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.

The club's summer marquis event, hosted by owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital, raised $600,000, more than last year's total of $537,200 and 2017 total of $366,000.

The day-long event at McClure River Ranch, held during the August 11 USPA Silver Cup, Mount Sopris Cup and Just For The Love Of It Cup, was a winning combination of a club record 18 chukkers of polo, sponsors, donors and silent online auction raising much-needed funding for four main hospital projects.

The soldout crowd of 400, including 350 in the fieldside VIP tent enjoyed a lavish menu prepared with white-glove service and impeccable attention to detail by Caribou Catering.

The highlight of the day was the live polo player auction. Guest auctioneer John Sarpa of the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation Board served as emcee and auctioneer.

Event chair Melissa Ganzi brought Nic Roldan for $3,000. Diana Cramer bought 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa for $5,000 which also included a new purse from Silver Cup sponsor Louis Vuitton. Polo ambassador Nacho Figueras put himself on the auction block twice promising to stay out until 1 a.m. He went for $10,000 each to Lisa Aprey and Mona Look-Mazza.

The Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, now entering its seventh year, is a non-profit solely focused on encouraging philanthropic support for the current and future needs of Aspen Valley Hospital.

"We are ecstatic," said Deborah Breen, AVHF President and CEO. Breen was named the foundation's first president in January 2013 after working in the philanthropic field for 17 years. "It just continues to grow and gain traction, and we are thrilled to be a part of it and honored to be working with the Ganzis. They always go above and beyond. They are so gracious and welcoming."

Three years ago Breen and Melissa Ganzi decided to turn the Community Day celebrating the 125th anniversary into "something special" with a "build it, they will come" mentality.

The most touching moment of the day was when Aspen Valley Polo Club President and La Karina patron Brian Boyd rode up to the VIP tent on his horse and talked about the care his wife Karin received for a broken leg at the hospital.

"He was so heartfelt with giving thanks to our doctors, nurses and entire care team," Breen said. "It was so touching and it brought the event home for everybody to remember why we were there."

Organizers and guests enjoyed the new venue McClure River Ranch.

"The larger field was beautiful," Breen said. "The speed of the play and amount of room the horses had to run was extraordinary. It amped up the excitement from the sidelines."

Breen and her staff have already begun working on the 2020 event. She is working with Garfield County officials "to see how we can make the event even larger," she said.

"Year after year it's something different," Breen said. "We want to make every guest feel really special and that they are doing something to support the hospital. We want them to come back and bring back more friends."

Aspen Valley Hospital is an important asset that delivers excellent care to the small mountain community, thanks in part to the funds raised at this annual benefit. Aspen Valley Hospital has met important goals as evidenced by its high-ratings in patient satisfaction and quality of care.

Aspen Valley Hospital has been proudly serving the community for more than 125 years. In order to provide high quality healthcare the community deserves, the hospital continues to modernize and expand facilities, improve technology, and add space for clinics and medical specialties.

With over 75 physicians on the medical staff, Aspen Valley Hospital has specialty services in more than 25 areas, with the most visible service areas being emergency/trauma, orthopedics, cardiology, diagnostic imaging, surgical services, physical and occupational therapy, oncology and infusion, lab/pathology, and maternity.

Coming off its most successful summer season, Aspen Valley Polo Club lined up a star-studded field of players including Hilario and Salvador Ulloa, Sapo Caset, Alejandro and Nacho Novillo Astrada, Tincho and Sebastian Merlos and Nic Roldan for the summer to compete with and against patrons and amateur players.

The 2019 summer tournament champions are: Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alfredo Bigatti, Pablo Spinacci, Juancito Bollini), Rocky Mountain Handicap; Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Grant Ganzi, Hilario Ulloa, Salvador Ulloa), Rocky Mountain Open; La Karina (Brian Boyd, Lauren Sherry, Carlitos Gracida, Sebastian Merlos), Mount Sopris Cup; Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Juan Martin Obregon, Sapo Caset, Mason Wroe), 119th USPA Silver Cup; Los Amigos Red (Alejandra Foster, Gabriel Gracida, Juan Bollini, Paul Foster), High Alpine Cup; Los Amigos Blue (Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Poma, Salvador Ulloa, Juan Bollini), Emma Challenge; Piocho Ranch (Gussie Busch, Nacho Figueras, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Tom Barrack), Basalt Handicap; La Karina (Brian Boyd, Carlitos Gracida, Sebastian Merlos, Kris Kampsen), USPA North American Cup; Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Nacho Novillo Astrada), ChukkerTV Challenge; Los Amigos Red (Hilario Figueras, Paul Foster, Lucas Lalor, Nacho Novillo Astrada), Craig Sakin Memorial; and Piocho Ranch (Tom Barrack, Gabriel Gracida, Nacho Figueras, Salvador Ulloa), the season-opening Independence Cup winners.

With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest and fastest growing USPA-sanctioned clubs in the nation.

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi founded the club in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Tuesday Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, The Polo School headed by former 8-goaler Juan Bollini, and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the club tournaments.

Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities.

Aspen Peak Magazine has featured the club and its polo and charity events several times and recently featured players Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Tony Calle and Nic Roldan in a cover story.

The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and "have created a polo paradise" according to Piocho Ranch padron Tom Barrack. "You can go all over the world but you can't have these kind of people, players and horses in this setting. It's really a gift." Players, sponsors, community leaders and fans share Barrack's sentiments.

All ages are welcome to enjoy polo at Aspen Valley Polo Club. Admission, food and refreshments are free for fans in a relaxed, laidback atmosphere. An added feature is the club's Jumbotron which made its debut last summer for the fans' enjoyment, Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique and new electronic scoreboard.