Royal rebel Zara Phillips turned racegoers' heads yesterday as she sported a daring split skirt at Ascot.

The feisty 22-year-old fashion icon, daughter of the princess royal, flashed her left leg in a Gharani Strok black outfit decorated with a pattern of large burnt orange and white flowers.

Her personal stylist, Ceril Campbell, said the revealing one-shouldered dress had been modified to make it more modest, but the lengthy split was still cut to the thigh.

Zara, who repeated last year's trick of changing in a public loo before descending on the racecourse, arrived on the arm of boyfriend, jockey Richard Johnson.

The first day of the celebrated Ascot meeting saw royal race enthusiasts mingling with the fashion conscious elite.

The vibrant colours of the ladies' extravagant hats filled the ground of the Berkshire course as punters sipped champagne and indulged in smoked salmon treats.

More than 47,000 guests descended on the racetrack enjoying the warm but occasionally rainy weather - with numbers up on most previous years.

Over the five days, visitors are expected to guzzle about 100,000 bottles of wine, 150,000 bottles of champagne and 14,000 bottles of Pimms.

The Queen had a good start to the event with her only runner yesterday - four-year-old colt Right Approach - coming third in the Queen Anne Stakes.

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