Don Bates ‘Norwegian Wood Breeding Limited’ still winning 47 years on 

By Duane Ranger 


The Leeston-based breeding establishment that was named after its 1976 foundation mare, Norwegian Wood, nailed another winner at Oamaru on Sunday (October 14). 

Even operating on just one lung, owner and breeder, Don Bates, was still able to express his joy following the Brent and Tim White trained Clymenus’s third career victory in race  seven – the David Ovens Junior Driving Pace. 

Clymenus with his mum Joys Underworld

Sarah O’Reilly did the driving for owners – Merveber Ltd, K F Neville, I R F McKelvie, Ms M J Johansen, B Kouvelis, T L Rodewald, Mrs J M Devenport, Mrs K Kelly, J J Jones, R M Kelly. 

“I bought Clymenus’s mother – the Roydon Lodge-bred Joys Underworld (2004 Christian Cullen – Lavish Franco – Soky’s Atom) mare off the Whitelocks (Braeden and Caroline) when she was two,” said Mr Bates, a former accountant and business owner, has been breeding for more than 40 years.  

The 1982 six-win Noodlum – Norwegian Wood (Good Chase) entire, Revolution, was the first standardbred that Mr Bates bred. Then 22 years later, Mr Bates started breeding from Joys Underworld – a sister to Life Of Luxury (1:51 USA – 2001 Art Major 12-win ($476,604) mare. 

“She won four races for us and then in 2011 I put her to Art Major and Pulp Fiction was born. He’s probably the second-best horse I‘ve bred after Lennon (In The Pocket – Penny Lane – Vance Hanover 27-win ($519,846) gelding. 

“Pulp Fiction won 12 races ($101,845) and was Group placed here and was sold to Australia in November 2016. Named Watch Pulp Fiction he placed in Group races over there, including The Sunshine Classic in Brisbane, but retired last year,” Mr Bates said.

Pulp Fiction (1:51) ended his career on January 4 last year with the now 11-year-old bay winning 26 of his 151 starts and placed in 42 others for $336,940. 

He is the first of six foals left by Joys Underworld. 

“Clymenus is now the mare’s second winner. That’s three he’s won now. We sold him to clients of Doug Gale’s at the 2020 Yearling Sale in Christchurch. 

“He’s developed into a nice pacer. I hope he wins a few more for the owners. 

“We also sold the foal after Clymenus at the same Sale the following year. She was an Art Major filly named Glee and we got $8,000 for her,” Mr Bates said. 

“The mare also left an Art Major filly named Call Me Joy in 2020. I sold her privately to Trent Yesberg – and then sadly she died from a twisted bowel about 18 months ago,” he added. 

Don Bates

Mr Bates said he had always loved breeding right from the time he got into the Norwegian Wood family. 

He said he purchased Norwegian Wood’s mother Carnroe (Eagle Armbro), who was served by Good Chase. I was delighted that her first foal was a filly (Norwegian Wood) so the following year I sold the mare in foal to Scottish Hanover. 

“I got what I wanted – a filly first up – and the family has developed since then,” said Mr Bates. 

He said he was still breeding from the 17-year-old black Presidential Ball – Paperback Writer – Lordship mare, Back In The USSR, as well as A Taste Of Honey (2007 Art Major – Give Peace A Chance – Christian Cullen one-win mare), who is also a descendant of Norwegian Wood. 

“Back In The USSR’s third foal, the brown (2014) Changeover mare, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, won the Diamond Jewels Final for 2-year-olds (Ashburton 2017). 

“I’ve got a Captain Crunch yearling colt named Ukraine and an Art Major weanling colt. She was served again by Captain Crunch last November.”