hurdle

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fall at the first hurdle

To fail to accomplish some task or goal at the very beginning of the attempt. John had his business plan all laid out, but he fell at the first hurdle when the bank refused to grant him a loan.
See also: fall, first, hurdle

fall at the final hurdle

To fail to accomplish some task or goal at the very end of the attempt. Negotiations between the two warring countries fell at the final hurdle due to disagreements over cross-border taxation.
See also: fall, final, hurdle

fall at the last hurdle

To fail to accomplish some task or goal at the very end of the attempt. Negotiations between the two warring countries fell at the last hurdle due to disagreements over cross-border taxation.
See also: fall, hurdle, last