Tuesday, December 30, 2014Contact: Silvina Koremblit
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Marcel Zarour Atanacio (1942-2014) - OSAF press release

Chairman of OSAF from November 2011 till December 2014.
Marcel Zarour Atanacio, who exercised a distinguished role as Chairman of OSAF (South American Organization for the Promotion of Thoroughbreds), Vice Chairman of Club Hípico de Santiago, Chairman of the Chilean Stud Book Commission, and owner Haras El Sheik, passed away on Sunday 28th of December of 2014 in Santiago de Chile at the age of 72, after a long illness. 

He was husband of María Luisa “Icha” Solari, father of Omar (deceased in 2007) and Tamara, and grandfather of Matías, Dieter, Amanda and Camila.

Zarour was a businessman, but above all passionate for horses and horseracing, and those who had the chance to know him more closely found in him a generous man who opened the doors of his home to friends, enjoyed entertaining, sharing anecdotes and quality time, and – why not – a barbecue. But above all, he was a tenacious, restless, energetic man, with convictions and projects. He devoted the last years of his life to push forward OSAF’s activities, strengthening the bonds between Latin American countries and defending the assets and values of our continent. He has left a great legacy, for which he will be always remembered in the horseracing world.

Since he took office as Chairman of OSAF, Marcel Zarour introduced a series of changes within the Organization in pursue of a more representative performance both at a local and at an International level, and it was during his presidency that the results of some of the efforts that OSAF had been driving since the preceding management finally found themselves materialized. OSAF has grown during the last few years as a result of the joint work of his team of co-workers, and has now become a modern organization which attempts to mirror the structure of the IFHA.

The first action taken by Zarour after he was elected Chairman was the enlargement of OSAF Board of Directors – until then made up of 7 members – to a total of 11, incorporating the representatives of Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo, Hipódromo La Plata, Valparaíso Sporting Club and Hípica de Panamá S.A. In this way, each racecourse member of OSAF came to have 1 vote in the Council’s decision-making process.

He formally created the Technical Committees within the structure of OSAF, each one of them representing an aspect or area of horseracing activities, each made up of a representative of all member countries and associations with the purpose of opening and improving the communication channels amongst technical specialists of all countries in OSAF, extending the exchange of information, harmonizing horseracing at a regional level – in the pursuit of finding common solutions and enhancing the experience acquired by professionals in each area – and towards the harmonization at an international level. Thus, the Stud Books´, the Medication and Laboratories´, Ratings and Handicappers´, Breeders´and Owners´, Pattern Race’s Committees, the Financial and Legal were created in OSAF.

As from the meeting of World Thoroughbred Rankings Committee (WTRC) which took place in Hong Kong in December 2012, OSAF became fully integrated to this international committee, with a right to vote, and the Ratings of the best 10 South American Thoroughbreds which were approved on were published for the first time at the WTR website on January 2013. Then, in December 2013 and also for the first time, each one of OSAF member countries in Part 1 of the ICSC (ARG, BRZ, CHI and PER) were entitled to an individual representation and took part with a right to vote at the WTRC meeting held in Hong Kong. Uruguay was also present, as an observer country. 

In March 2013 and after an entire year of work within the Handicappers’ Committee - and in the acknowledgement of the importance for rating-building – a unique weight-for-age scale was agreed on, to be applied in all racecourses members of OSAF.  

The OSAF Pattern Race Committee was created in order to fulfill the commitment OSAF made to IFHA, of carrying out a thorough assessment of the quality of pattern (Group/Graded and Listed) races in the Latin-American region, and meeting the average ratings as required by the international body. This committee began working on November 2013, meeting for the first time in San Luis, Argentina. On this occasion the Ground Rules of this committee were set, and the guidelines for its operations in evaluating the quality of OSAF member racetracks’ stakes were established. Currently, all South American countries in Part 1 of ICSC and Uruguay are represented in this committee. Since OSAF Pattern Race Committee began operating, a total of 17 downgrades have been applied, to pattern races which did not meet the required average levels to qualify for their former Group condition.

As to the measures taken regarding medication policies, member racetracks counted with OSAF´s support to accomplish the commitment made towards the progressive prohibition of the use of Furosemide in Group and Listed races.  This ban was successfully enforced as from January 2013, affecting black-type races in South American racecourses. It is worth mentioning that Furosemide had never been allowed in Brazilian black-types.
The Bylaws of the Organization were amended, to become guidelines for the operations and management within OSAF and in order to portray the institution’s spirit and mission. 

The former Asociación Latinoamericana de Jockey Clubes e Hipódromos became part of OSAF, and Gran Premio Latinoamericano came to be the Grand Prix organized by OSAF, recently gaining the sponsorship of Longines as OSAF Official Partner and Main Sponsor of the race for an initial 5-year period (from its 2014 edition till 2019´s).

The use of a unique whip for common use in the whole region and for all member racetracks was sought, and the use of OSAF´s recommended whip successfully applied in Latin American countries, as another step towards harmonization and unifying criteria and regulations in the regional horseracing industry, aiming at a more transparent and fair sport. 

OSAF had been acting since 1958 as an association which had not been yet legally registered, relying on its members for operating, and it was on March 25th 2014 that the Organization obtained its Legal Status in the Argentine Republic.

The grounds for an Agreement of mutual cooperation were signed between OSAF and The Jockey Club (USA) in late 2013, and the first joint action was the organization of the First Pan-American Conference which will take place on June 2015 in the city of New York.

After many years of hard work, and with the constant support from OSAF and Chairman Zarour in person, Uruguay recently obtained the approval of IRPAC and IFHA (in October 2014) for 12 of its Group races at Hipódromo de Maroñas to be acknowledged as Part I of the International Cataloguing Standards.

Amongst the last achievements of 2014, during the last meeting of the International Ratings Committee (Longines Best World Racehorse Rankings Committee - LBWRR) held in Hong Kong on early December, for the first time ever, 20 South American Thoroughbreds met the international classifications and will be included in the World Rankings List to be published by IFHA on January 20th 2015. Thus, the presence of South American Thoroughbreds has duplicated its number amongst World Rankings.

A great man has left us, an excellent Chairman, a man determined to live and who became South American horseracing’s ambassador. His legacy has been to strengthen the foundations and to point the compass to the achievement of the standards and recognition Latin American horseracing deserves. 
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